(HealthDay News) – About 16% of adult-onset asthma among Britons born in the late 1950s can be attributed to occupational exposures, including occupations such as farmers, hairdressers, and printing workers, as well as other occupations with high-risk exposures, according to a study published online Jan. 21 in Thorax.

Rebecca Elisabeth Ghosh, PhD, from Imperial College London, and colleagues examined the association between occupational exposure and adult-onset asthma in 7,406 British adults born in 1958.

The researchers found that 9% of participants reported having asthma by 42 years of age. Adult-onset asthma correlated with 18 occupations, including many previously associated with asthma such as farmers (odds ratio [OR], 4.26), hairdressers (OR, 1.88), and printing workers (OR, 3.04). Seven were occupations that used or were likely to use cleaning products. Adult-onset asthma was significantly associated with five of the 18 high-risk Asthma Specific Job Exposure Matrix exposures: exposure to flour, enzymes, cleaning/disinfecting products, metal and metal fumes, and textile production. About 16% of cases correlated with occupational exposure to known asthmagenic agents.

“This study suggests that about 16% of adult-onset asthma in British adults born in the late 1950s could be due to occupational exposures, mainly recognized high-risk exposures,” Ghosh and colleagues conclude.

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