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Occupational particle exposure and chronic kidney disease: a cohort study in Swedish construction workers.

OBJECTIVES: Increasing epidemiological and experimental evidence suggests that particle exposure is an environmental risk factor for chronic kidney disease (CKD). However, only a few case-control studies have investigated this association in an occupational setting. Hence, our objective was to investigate associations between particle exposure and CKD in a large cohort of Swedish construction workers.

METHODS: We performed a retrospective cohort study in the Swedish Construction Workers' Cohort, recruited 1971-1993 (n=286 089). A job-exposure matrix was used to identify workers exposed to nine different particulate exposures, which were combined into three main categories (inorganic dust and fumes, wood dust and fibres). Incident CKD and start of renal replacement therapy (RRT) were obtained from validated national registries until 2021 and analysed using adjusted Cox proportional hazards models.

RESULTS: Exposure to inorganic dust and fumes was associated with an increased risk of CKD and RRT during working age (adjusted HR for CKD at age <65 years 1.15, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.26). The elevated risk did not persist after retirement age. Exposure to cement dust, concrete dust and diesel exhaust was associated with CKD. Elevated HRs were also found for quartz dust and welding fumes.

CONCLUSIONS: Workers exposed to inorganic particles seem to be at elevated risk of CKD and RRT. Our results are in line with previous evidence of renal effects of ambient air pollution and warrant further efforts to reduce occupational and ambient particle exposure.

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