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Occupational and Environmental Lung Disease |

Upper Respiratory Symptoms Associated With Aging of the Ventilation System in Artificially Ventilated Offices in São Paulo, Brazil*

Gustavo S. Graudenz, MD; Jorge Kalil, MD, PhD; Paulo H. Saldiva, MD, PhD, FCCP; Walderez Gambale, PhD; Maria do Rosário D. O. Latorre, PhD; Fabio F. Morato-Castro, MD, PhD
Author and Funding Information

*From the Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (Drs. Graudenz, Kalil, and Morato-Castro), Internal Medicine Department, School of Medicine, University of São Paulo; the Department of Pathology (Dr. Saldiva), School of Medicine, University of São Paulo; the Department of Microbiology (Dr. Gambale), Biomedical Science Institute, University of São Paulo; and the Department of Epidemiology (Dr. Latorre), School of Public Health, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.

Correspondence to: Gustavo S. Graudenz, MD, Rua Heitor Penteado 477, Cerqueira César SP, CEP 05437–000, São Paulo, Brazil; e-mail: gustavog@usp.br



Chest. 2002;122(2):729-735. doi:10.1378/chest.122.2.729
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Background: The increase of work-related respiratory complaints in artificially ventilated buildings has multiple causes, and the role of allergen exposure and symptoms is still controversial.

Study objectives: To analyze the risk factors and the association of work-related symptoms with allergen exposure and different conditions of the same air conditioning system in São Paulo, Brazil.

Design: Workers were classified according to characteristics of the air conditioning system: the first group (group 1) with ventilation machinery and ducts with > 20 years of use, the second group (group 2) with ventilation machinery with > 20 years of use and ventilation ducts with < 2 years of use, and the third group (group 3) with ventilation machinery and ducts with < 2 years of use. Logistic regression was performed to check the associations between air conditioning groups, allergen exposure (fungi, mites, animal dander, and cockroach), and symptoms.

Results: There was a higher prevalence of building-related worsening of respiratory symptoms (p = 0.004; odds ratio [OR], 8.53) and symptoms of rhinoconjunctivitis (p = 0.01; OR, 8.49) in group 1. There was a lower relative humidity (p = 0.05) and nonsignificant lower temperature in group 1, when compared to the other groups. The viable mold spores totals were higher outdoors than in the indoor samples (n = 45, p = 0.017). There were higher levels of Der p 1 in group 2 (p = 0.032). All allergen levels were considered low.

Conclusion: There was a strong association of building-related upper-airway symptoms with places having ventilation systems with > 20 years of use.

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