The risk of occupational rhinitis

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Abstract

Objective Reports on the aetiology and risk of occupational rhinitis in different occupations are scarce. Method: The purpose of this study was to find the occupations with an increased risk of occupational rhinitis. Age and gender differences in occupational rhinitis and occupational asthma were also compared, and the most common causes of occupational rhinitis were analysed. Design: This study covered the cases of occupational rhinitis and asthma reported to the Finnish Register of Occupational Diseases during the years 1986–1991. The cases on the Register were linked to the longitudinal census data file from the Finnish censuses. Results: During 1986–1991, 1244 new cases of occupational rhinitis (747 women and 497 men) and 1867 new cases of occupational asthma (916 women and 951 men) were reported to the Register. Animal dander, flours, wood dusts, textiles, phthalic acid anhydrides and storage mites were important causes of occupational rhinitis. The highest relative risk of occupational rhinitis was among furriers, the age-standardized rate ratio (SRR) was 30.0. Bakers and livestock breeders had also a markedly elevated relative risk (SRR=22.0). Men had the highest incidence of occupational rhinitis at the age of 25–29 years and among women the incidence gradually increased and reached the peak in the group 40–44 years of age. Conclusion: Furriers, bakers, and livestock breeders had the most elevated relative risk of occupational rhinitis. Occupational rhinitis cases appeared at a younger age than asthma, suggesting that rhinitis often precedes asthma.

Received: 26 June 1996/Accepted: 16 October 1996