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Ramada-Rodilla, J. M., Van der Haar, R., Serra, C., Zock, J. P., Delclos, G. L

Association between occupational exposure to chalk dust and respiratory tract diseases in school teachers

Arch Prev Riesgos Labor, 2011, 14, 2, 88, 95, IF: --,

Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the associations between exposure to chalk dust and respiratory tract symptoms and diseases in a sample of school teachers. Methods: A cross sectional study was carried out between January ans May 2010, in a sample of 420 teachers of seven schools from Barcelona, Girona, Navarra and Valencia who answered a self-asministrated questionnaire, focused on determinants of chalk dust occupational exposure, respiratory disorders and demographic variables. We evaluated the associations between six variables related with determinants of chalk dust occupational exposure and seven respiratory tract symptoms and diseases. Odds ratio of prevalence (ORP) and confidence intervals 95% (IC 95%) were calculated using multivariate logistic regressions to assess the associations, adjusting by the variables sex, age, smoking and body mass index (BMI). Results: Overall survey response rate was 96.7%. The precentage of teachers who used chalk for at least an hour a day was 68% and 24% indicated shaking the eraser in class to eliminate the adhered dust. The most prevalent disorders were hoarseness, frequent upper respiratory tract symptoms (FURS) and chronic bronchitis. Shaking and/or frequent use of the eraser and/or using chalk in class was significantly associated with an increased prevalence of wheezing (ORP a=4.04;IC95%=1.73-9.42), frequent respiratory infections (FRI) (ORPa=5.64;IC95%=1.32-24.04), FURS (ORPa=2.42;IC95%=1.33-4.43), and hoarseness (ORPa=1.75;IC95%=1.01-3.04). The prevalence of wheezing, FRI, FURS and hoarseness decreased with age. Conclusions: Respiratory disorders are associated with exposure to chalk dust among teachers. The inverse relationship with age for wheezing, FRI, FURS and hoarseness suggests a selection effect, and justifies research to determine whether teachers are leaving the profession because of respiratory health.

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