Indoor NO2 air pollution and lung function of professional cooks
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Studies of cooking-generated NO2 effects are rare in occupational epidemiology. In the present study, we evaluated the lung function of professional cooks exposed to NO2 in hospital kitchens. We performed spirometry in 37 cooks working in four hospital kitchens and estimated the predicted FVC, FEV1 and FEF25-75, based on age, sex, race, weight, and height, according to Knudson standards. NO2 measurements were obtained for 4 consecutive days during 4 different periods at 20-day intervals in each kitchen. Measurements were performed inside and outside the kitchens, simultaneously using Palm diffusion tubes. A time/exposure indicator was defined as representative of the cumulative exposure of each cook. No statistically significant effect of NO2 exposure on FVC was found. Each year of work as a cook corresponded to a decrease in predicted FEV1 of 2.5% (P = 0.046) for the group as a whole. When smoking status and asthma were included in the analysis the effect of time/exposure decreased about 10% and lost statistical significance. on predicted FEF25-75, a decrease of 3.5% (P = 0.035) was observed for the same group and the inclusion of controllers for smoking status and asthma did not affect the effects of time/exposure on pulmonary function parameter. After a 10-year period of work as cooks the participants of the study may present decreases in both predicted FEV1 and FEF25-75 that can reach 20 and 30%, respectively. The present study showed small but statistically significant adverse effects of gas stove exposure on the lung function of professional cooks.