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Occupational Risk Factors for Chronic Respiratory Disease in a New Zealand Population Using Lifetime Occupational History

Hansell, Anna MB, BChir, PhD; Ghosh, Rebecca E. PhD; Poole, Suzanne MBChB, MD; Zock, Jan-Paul PhD; Weatherall, Mark MBChB, BA, MApplStats; Vermeulen, Roel PhD; Kromhout, Hans PhD; Travers, Justin MBChB; Beasley, Richard MBChB, DSc

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: March 2014 - Volume 56 - Issue 3 - p 270–280
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000438382.33221.dc
Original Articles

Objectives: To investigate associations between respiratory disease and occupational exposures in a New Zealand urban population, the Wellington Respiratory Survey.

Methods: Multiple regression analyses in a population sample of 1017 individuals aged 25 to 74 years with spirometry and questionnaire information, including a lifetime occupational history.

Results: Chronic bronchitis symptoms were associated with self-reported exposure to hairdressing, paint manufacturing, insecticides, welding, detergents and with ALOHA Job Exposure Matrix–assessed gases/fumes exposure. The strongest association was for hairdressing (odds ratio 6.91; 95% confidence interval: 2.02 to 23.70). Cumulative exposure to mineral dust and gases/fumes was associated with higher FEV1% (forced expiratory volume in the first second of expiration) predicted. Analyses were limited by relatively small numbers of cases.

Conclusions: Increased risks of objectively defined respiratory disease, which have been previously documented, were not seen. Nevertheless, the study suggested increased risk of respiratory symptoms with various occupational exposures as well as likely healthy worker effect.

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From the MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health (Drs Hansell and Ghosh), Imperial College London, London, the United Kingdom; Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust (Dr Hansell), London, the United Kingdom; Tauranga Hospital (Dr Poole), Tauranga, New Zealand; Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL) (Dr Zock), Barcelona, Spain; Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM) (Dr Zock), Barcelona, Spain; CIBER Epidemiología y Salud Pública (CIBERESP) (Dr Zock), Spain; University of Otago Wellington (Prof Weatherall), Wellington, New Zealand; Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences (Profs Vermeulen and Kromhout), Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands; Medical Research Institute of New Zealand (Dr Travers), Wellington, New Zealand; and University of Otago, North Dunedin, New Zealand (Prof Beasley).

Address correspondence to Anna Hansell, MB, BChir, PhD, MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health, Department Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Imperial College London, Norfolk Place, London W2 1PG, the United Kingdom (

The Wellington Respiratory Survey was supported by a research grant from GlaxoSmith Kline. A.H. was funded by Wellcome Trust (grant 075833).

The authors have no conflicts of interest to report.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

Copyright © 2014 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine