Vapor, dust, and smoke exposure in relation to adult-onset asthma and chronic respiratory symptoms: The Singapore Chinese Health Study

Tricia D. LeVan, Woon Puay Koh, Hin Peng Lee, David Koh, Mimi C. Yu, Stephanie J. London

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Occupational factors contribute to a significant fraction of respiratory disease and symptoms. The authors evaluated the role of occupational exposures in asthma, chronic bronchitis, and respiratory symptoms in the Singapore Chinese Health Study, a population-based cohort of adults aged 45-74 years at enrollment in 1993-1998. Information on occupations and occupational exposures was collected at enrollment for 52,325 subjects for whom respiratory outcomes were obtained via follow-up interviews in 1999-2004. Exposure to dusts from cotton, wood, metal, minerals, and/or asbestos was associated with nonchronic cough and/or phlegm (odds ratio (OR) = 1.19, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.08, 1.30), chronic bronchitis (OR = 1.26, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.57), and adult-onset asthma (OR = 1.14, 95% CI: 1.00, 1.30). Cotton dust was the major contributor to respiratory symptoms. Vapor exposure from chemical solvents, dyes, cooling oils, paints, wood preservatives, and/or pesticides was associated with nonchronic cough or phlegm (OR = 1.14, 95% CI: 1.03, 1.27), chronic dry cough (OR = 1.55, 95% CI: 1.19, 2.01), and adult-onset asthma (OR = 1.34, 95% CI: 1.15, 1.56). Chemical solvents, cooling oils, and pesticides were the major contributors to respiratory symptoms. These data support the role of occupational exposures in the etiology of respiratory illness in a population-based cohort in Singapore with a low prevalence of atopic illness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1118-1128
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 1 2006



  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis, chronic
  • Occupational diseases
  • Occupational exposure
  • Pulmonary disease, chronic obstructive

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology

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