Environmental Risk Factors and Work-Related Lower Respiratory Symptoms in 80 Office Buildings: An Exploratory Analysis of NIOSH Data

TitleEnvironmental Risk Factors and Work-Related Lower Respiratory Symptoms in 80 Office Buildings: An Exploratory Analysis of NIOSH Data
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsMark J Mendell, Gina M Naco, Thomas G Wilcox, W. Karl Sieber
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Volume43
630
Issue6
Pagination630-641
Date Published06/2003
Keywordsasthma, building-related illness, indoor air quality, indoor environmental quality, nonspecific symptoms, respiratory disease, respiratory symptoms, sick building syndrome, ventilation systems
Abstract

Background: We evaluated relationships between lower respiratory symptoms and risk factors for microbiological contamination in office buildings.

Methods: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health collected data from 80 office buildings during standardized indoor environmental health hazard evaluations. Present analyses included lower respiratory symptom-based outcome definitions and risk factors for potential microbiologic contamination. Multivariate logistic regression models for selected outcomes identified key risk factors.

Results: Adjusted odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) for "at least three of four work-related lower respiratory symptoms" were, for debris in ventilation air intake, 2.0 (1.0- 3.9), and for poor drainage in air-conditioning drip pans, 2.6 (1.3-5.2). Adjusted associations with risk factors were consistently stronger for outcomes requiring both multiple symptoms and improvement away from work, and somewhat stronger among diagnosed asthmatics.

Conclusions: Moisture and debris in ventilation systems, possibly by supporting microbiologic growth, may increase adverse respiratory effects, particularly among asthmatics. Data from more representative buildings are needed to confirm these findings.

DOI10.1002/ajim.10211
LBNL Report Number

LBNL-51761

Short TitleRisks for Respiratory Symptoms in Offices