Endemic work-related febrile respiratory illness among construction workers.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Construction workers building Denver International Airport (DIA) reported work-related respiratory and flulike symptoms of several months duration. We performed a cross-sectional interview study of 495 randomly selected DIA workers from six contractors in comparison with preplacement workers. We defined cases as workers with two work-attributed lower respiratory symptoms and one work-attributed systemic symptom. Case rates were significantly higher among DIA workers (34%) compared with those who had never worked at DIA (2%). Risk factors for illness included exposure to fireproofing (OR, 4.21; 95% CI, 1.95-9.08), work in tunnels and adjoining areas (OR, 3.07; 95% CI, 1.84-5.12), length of DIA employment (OR, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.46-0.92), and preexisting bronchitis (OR, 2.43; 95% CI, 1.17-5.05). Our industrial hygiene investigation revealed alkaline dust (pH 11) present at a worksite associated with elevated risk of illness, and we identified airborne Penicillium mold widely distributed indoors at DIA. Clinical evaluation of 26 self-identified symptomatic DIA employees, including bronchoalveolar lavage and biopsy in 10, revealed work-related asthma in three workers and histologic evidence of chronic bronchitis in four who had never smoked. We concluded that future investigations of endemic work-related febrile respiratory illness among construction workers should evaluate its association with indoor exposure to dusts from alkaline fireproofing, Penicillium mold, mycotoxins, and bacterial bioaerosols.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Epling, CA; Rose, CS; Martyny, JW; Zhen, B; Alexander, W; Waldron, JA; Kreiss, K

Published Date

  • August 1995

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 28 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 193 - 205

PubMed ID

  • 8585517

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0271-3586

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/ajim.4700280205


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States