Prevalence of self-reported symptoms and consequences related to inhalation of airborne chemicals in a Danish general population
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To estimate the prevalence and consequences of self-reported symptoms related to inhalation of airborne chemicals in a Danish general population.
A random sample of 18–69-year-old individuals (n = 6,000) was drawn from the Danish Civil Registration System. A questionnaire on self-reported symptoms related to inhalation of 11 categories of airborne chemicals was mailed to the population. Respondents who reported symptoms received an additional questionnaire to verify the reported symptoms and to characterise factors related to the initial onset of symptoms.
The response rate to the primary questionnaire was 71%. A total of 1,134 individuals (27%, 95% CI 25–28) reported symptoms related to inhalation of airborne chemicals, 141 individuals (3.3%, 95% CI 2.8–3.9) reported adjustments of social life or occupational conditions due to symptoms, whereas 20 individuals (0.5%, 95% CI 0.3–0.7) had made adjustments of both social life and occupational conditions. Women reported more exposures as annoying than men and had more symptoms related to inhalation of airborne chemicals (P < 0.001). However, sex had no effect on the reporting of adjustments of social life or occupational conditions (P = 0.54).
Symptoms related to inhalation of airborne chemicals were common in this general population, and a minority reported that these symptoms affected social life or occupational conditions. Women as compared to men reported more symptoms but not adjustments of social life or occupational conditions.
KeywordsEpidemiology Population-based Prevalence Multiple chemical sensitivity Idiopathic environmental intolerance
We thank Susanne Schweitz and Anne Marie Topp who provided valuable secretarial assistance. The study was financially supported by Aage Bangs Foundation and the Asthma and Allergy Association of Copenhagen. The funding sources had no involvement on the work.
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