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Risk Factors for Asthma Among Cosmetology Professionals in Colorado

Kreiss, Kathleen MD; Esfahani, Reza S. DO, MSPH; Antao, Vinicius C. S. MD, MSc, PhD; Odencrantz, John PhD; Lezotte, Dennis C. PhD; Hoffman, Richard E. MD, MPH

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: October 2006 - Volume 48 - Issue 10 - p 1062-1069
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000237348.32645.eb
Original Articles

Problem: After receiving several reports of occupational asthma among cosmetology professionals, we studied the prevalence, work-attributable risk, and tasks associated with asthma in this industry.

Methods: We selected a stratified random sample of cosmeticians, manicurists, barbers, and cosmetologists holding licenses in Colorado for a mail survey instrument.

Results: The prevalence of physician-diagnosed asthma among the 1883 respondents (68% response rate) was 9.3%; of these, 67 (38%) developed asthma after entering the cosmetology profession. Multivariate analyses showed that hairstyling, application of artificial nails, and shaving and honing were significantly associated with asthma arising in the course of employment (P < 0.005) with relative risks of 2.6–2.9.

Conclusions: The increased risk of asthma with onset during employment among cosmetologists is probably attributable to their exposure to sensitizers and irritants in tasks demonstrated to be associated with asthma.

From the Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics (Dr Kreiss, Dr Esfahani, Dr Lezotte, Dr Hoffman), University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado; the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Dr Kreiss, Dr Antao, Dr Odencrantz), Morgantown, West Virginia; and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (Dr Hoffman), Denver, Colorado.

Supported in part by a Cooperative Agreement for Sentinel Event Notification for Occupational Risks (SENSOR) from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and by grant no. ES00214 from the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences.

The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Address correspondence to: Kathleen Kreiss, MD, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1095 Willowdale Road, Morgantown, WV 26505; E-email:

©2006The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine