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Something in the air: bricklayers three times more likely to suffer from rheumatoid arthritis
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

Something in the air seems to trigger rheumatoid arthritis, the disease of the immune system. 'Noxious airborne agents' have been blamed after researchers discovered that bricklayers and people in the concrete industry are three times more likely to develop the problem.

Workers in the electronics and electrical industries are also more prone to the disease, with a doubling of the risk.

And it's definitely something to do with the air the workers are breathing, say researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, who accounted for all the usual suspects, including smoking, being overweight and drinking alcohol.

Likely culprits include silica, asbestos, organic solvents and motor exhaust that circulate in the work environment.

Researchers looked at the working lives and lifestyle habits of 3,522 arthritis sufferers, and compared them to 5,580 people who didn't suffer from the disease.

The disease's reach was far lower in people in other occupations and work environments, such as professional, administrative and technical workers who were more likely to be working in offices.

Among women, nurses and attendants had a slightly raised risk.

People working in the high-risk industries should be aware of the danger, and should take preventative action, such as wearing face mask or making sure there is better airflow.


(Source: Arthritis Care & Research, 2017; doi: 10.1002/acr.23321)

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