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Incidence of Asthma Among Finnish Construction Workers

Karjalainen, Antti MD; Martikainen, Rami MSc; Oksa, Panu MD; Saarinen, Kimmo MD; Uitti, Jukka MD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: August 2002 - Volume 44 - Issue 8 - p 752-757

We wanted to explore the risk of asthma among male workers of the construction industry. All Finnish male construction industry workers and all those employed in administrative work were followed for asthma incidence through a register linkage in 1986 through 1998. Age-adjusted relative risks (RR) were estimated for 24 construction occupations. The risk was increased in nearly all construction occupations studied, but it was highest among welders and flame cutters (RR 2.34), asphalt roofing workers (RR 2.04), plumbers (RR 1.90), and brick layers and tile setters (RR 1.83). Only 45 (2%) of the cases of asthma among construction workers had been recognized as occupational asthma. Construction industry workers have an increased risk of adult-onset persistent asthma and cases of occupational asthma caused by well-established causative agents have only a minor contribution to this overall asthma excess.

From the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Helsinki, Finland (Dr Karjalainen, Dr Martikainen); and the Tampere Regional Institute of Occupational Health and Clinic of Occupational Medicine Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland (Dr Oksa, Dr Saarinen, Dr Uitti).

Address correspondence to: Dr Antti Karjalainen, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Topeliuksenkatu 41 aA, FIN-00250 Helsinki, Finland;

Copyright © by American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Copyright © 2002 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine