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The association between symptoms and exposure is stronger in dropouts than in non-dropouts among employees in Norwegian smelters: a five-year follow-up study

Purpose: We have investigated the association between respiratory symptoms and dust exposure among employees in 18 Norwegian smelters using a longitudinal design. Methods: All employees (N = 3,084) were examined annually for 5 years (12,996 health examinations). At each examination, the subjects reported if they had respiratory symptoms, coded as 1 (yes) or 0 (no), on a respiratory questionnaire. Symptom score was constructed as the sum of symptoms (0–5). Full-time workers in the production line were classified as line operators; subjects never exposed in the production line were regarded as non-exposed. The remaining individuals were classified as non-line operators. A job-exposure matrix regarding dust exposure was also available. Analyses of repeated measurements were performed using generalised linear mixed model with log-link (Poisson regression). Adjustments were made for overdispersion. Results: The mean age at inclusion was 39.0 years, and 89% were men. The median dust exposure in tertiles 1–3 was 0.19, 1.76 and 3.47 mg/m3. The longitudinal analyses showed that the association between symptoms-score ratio (SSR) and job category was significantly stronger in dropouts compared with non-dropouts (p = 0.01). Among the dropouts, SSR was 1.61 (95% confidence interval: 1.27–2.05) and 1.39 (1.09–1.77) in line operators and non-line operators compared with...

Søyseth, Vidar; Johnsen, Helle Laier; Bugge, Merete Drevvatne; Kongerud, Johny
International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health 85(1): 27–33
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