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August/September 2011 (vol. 08/2)

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Research Plus

Differentiating occupational asthma

Rest–work differences in peak expiratory flow (PEF) measurement is the best indicator to separate workers with occupational asthma (OA) from non-occupational asthma or irritant-exposed healthy workers. This UK study followed three groups of workers: those with confirmed OA; those with non-occupational asthma; and healthy workers exposed to high levels of a respiratory irritant (grain dust). A 16 litres/minute difference (3%–4%) in PEF between work and rest days was found to separate OA patients from the other groups, with 70% diagnostic sensitivity; however, a change in diurnal variation in PEF between work and rest days was unhelpful.

Occupational Medicine 2011; 61: 190–195.

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Occupational Health at Work August/September 2011 (vol. 08/2) pp42