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Associations between occupational inhalation risks and FeNO levels in airway obstruction patients: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2007–2012

Authors Huang YC, Yang MC

Received 13 July 2017

Accepted for publication 19 September 2017

Published 20 October 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 3085—3093


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Prof. Dr. Chunxue Bai

Yi-Chih Huang,1,2 Mei-Chen Yang1,2

1Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Taipei Tzu Chi Hospital, Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation, New Taipei City, 2The School of Medicine, Tzu-Chi University, Hualien, Taiwan

Purpose: To investigate associations between occupational inhalation risks and fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) levels in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Patients and methods: Data of 16,486 subjects who had undergone spirometry with pre-bronchodilator and post-bronchodilator lung function assessment were retrieved from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2007–2012 database. After excluding 2,638 subjects with missing spirometry values, data of 13,336 subjects were included for analysis. Factors associated with occupational inhalation, FeNO levels and COPD were analyzed using logistic regression analysis.
Results: COPD was associated with occupational exposures to mineral dusts, organic dusts, exhaust fumes, other fumes, and second-hand smoking (P<0.05). Long-term exposure to these occupational hazards carried significantly higher risk for subjects with COPD than for controls (crude odds ratios [ORs]: mineral dusts: 2.364, organic dusts: 2.427, exhaust fumes: 2.728, other fumes: 2.144). In subgroup analysis, COPD correlated positively with long-term exposures to organic dusts and exhaust fumes in subjects with FeNO ≤50 ppb (ORs 1.361 and 1.314, respectively); conversely, COPD correlated negatively with intermediate to long-term exposures to organic dusts and exhaust fumes in those with FeNO >50 ppb (ORs 0.058 and 0.210, respectively).
Conclusion: Occupational exposures to airborne pollutants carries higher risk of COPD than non-exposure and the risk is higher the longer the duration of exposure. Exposure–response relationships are inconsistent in subjects with suspected asthmatic airway inflammation (FeNO ≥50 ppb). More careful risk assessment is needed in occupational inhalation exposure, since COPD with asthmatic airway inflammation, or asthma-COPD overlapping syndrome, may have the distinguishing features of both COPD and asthma.

Keywords: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD, fractional exhaled nitric oxide, FeNO, occupational inhalation risk

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