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COPD and Occupational Exposures: A Case-Control Study

Weinmann, Sheila PhD; Vollmer, William M. PhD; Breen, Victor MD; Heumann, Michael MPH, MA; Hnizdo, Eva PhD; Villnave, Jacqueline MHS, MPH; Doney, Brent MS, MPH, CIH; Graziani, Monica MS; McBurnie, Mary Ann PhD; Buist, A Sonia MD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: May 2008 - Volume 50 - Issue 5 - p 561-569
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181651556
Original Articles

Objective: Evidence demonstrates that occupational exposures are causally linked with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This case-control study evaluated the association between occupational exposures and prevalent COPD based on lifetime occupational history.

Methods: Cases (n = 388) aged 45 years and older with COPD were compared with controls (n = 356), frequency matched on age, sex, and cigarette smoking history. Odds ratios for exposure to each of eight occupational hazard categories and three composite measures of exposure were computed using logistic regression.

Results: Occupational exposures most strongly associated with COPD were diesel exhaust, irritant gases and vapors, mineral dust, and metal dust. The composite measures describing aggregate exposure to gases, vapors, solvents, or sensitizers (GVSS) and aggregate exposure to dust, GVSS, or diesel exhaust were also associated with COPD. In the small group of never-smokers, a similar pattern was evident.

Conclusion: These population-based findings add to the literature linking occupational exposures to COPD.

From the Center for Health Research (Drs Weinmann, Vollmer, Breen and McBurnie and Ms Villnave), Kaiser Permanente Northwest, Portland, Oreg; the Oregon Department of Human Services (Mr Heumann), Salem, Oreg; the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Dr Hnizdo, Mr Doney, and Ms Graziani), Morgantown, WV; and Department of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine (Dr Buist), Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oreg.

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: Sheila Weinmann, PhD, Center for Health Research, Kaiser Permanente Northwest, 3800 N. Interstate Avenue, Portland, OR 97227; E-mail:

©2008The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine