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Eur Respir J. 2008 Jun;31(6):1241-8. doi: 10.1183/09031936.00090607. Epub 2008 Feb 6.

Exposure-response analysis of allergy and respiratory symptoms in endotoxin-exposed adults.

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  • 1Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Division of Environmental Epidemiology, Utrecht University, PO Box 80178, 3508 TD Utrecht, The Netherlands.


The objective of the present study was to investigate exposure-response relationships between current endotoxin exposure and allergic and respiratory symptoms in adults, taking into account farming exposures during childhood. A cross-sectional study was conducted among 877 Dutch farmers and agricultural industry workers in 2006. Based on 249 full-shift personal airborne endotoxin samples, a job-exposure matrix was constructed to assign endotoxin exposure levels to all participants. Associations between endotoxin exposure and questionnaire data on symptoms were studied by multiple logistic regression. Adjusted odds ratios (OR) for an interquartile range increase in endotoxin level were elevated for respiratory symptoms such as wheezing (OR 1.41 (95% confidence interval 1.16-1.72)), wheezing with shortness of breath (1.50 (1.18-1.90)) and daily cough (1.29 (1.03-1.62)). In contrast, endotoxin was strongly associated with a decreased prevalence of hay fever (0.62 (0.49-0.78)). Workers who had grown up on a farm had a lower prevalence of hay fever, but no evidence was found of effect modification by farm childhood. In conclusion, occupational endotoxin exposure in adulthood is associated with an increased risk of asthma-like symptoms but a reduced prevalence of hay fever.

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