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Chronic occupational exposures to irritants and asthma in the CONSTANCES cohort.

OBJECTIVES: The impact of chronic occupational exposures to irritants on asthma remains discussed. We studied the associations between occupational exposures and asthma, with specific interest for chronic exposure to irritants, including disinfectants and cleaning products (DCPs) and solvents.

METHODS: Cross-sectional analyses included 115 540 adults (55% women, mean age 43 years, 10% current asthma) working at inclusion in the French population-based CONSTANCES cohort (2012-2020). Current asthma was defined by ever asthma with symptoms, medication or asthma attacks (past 12 months), and the asthma symptom score by the sum of 5 respiratory symptoms (past 12 months). Both lifetime and current occupational exposures were assessed by the Occupational Asthma-specific Job-Exposure Matrix. Associations were evaluated by gender using logistic and binomial negative regressions adjusted for age, smoking status and body mass index.

RESULTS: In women, associations were observed between current asthma and lifetime exposure to irritants (OR 1.05, 95% CI 1.00 to 1.11), DCPs (1.06, 95% CI 1.00 to 1.12) and solvents (1.06, 95% CI 0.98 to 1.14). In men, only lifetime exposure to DCPs (1.10, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.20) was associated with current asthma. Lifetime exposure to irritants was associated with higher asthma symptom score both in women (mean score ratio: 1.08, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.11) and men (1.11, 95% CI 1.07 to 1.15), especially for DCPs (women: 1.09, 95% CI 1.06 to 1.13, men: 1.21, 95% CI 1.15 to 1.27) and solvents (women 1.14, 95% CI 1.10 to 1.19, men: 1.10, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.15). For current exposures, no consistent associations were observed with current asthma and asthma symptom score.

CONCLUSIONS: Lifetime occupational exposures to irritants were associated with current asthma and higher asthma symptom score. These exposures should be carefully considered in asthma management.

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