Sunday December 10, 2023

Dust in offices could lead to rheumatoid arthritis, study warns

Average person with conventional day job spends about eight hours every day in their office, which might result in long-term exposure to numerous contaminants

By Web Desk
December 10, 2022
The image shows staff members working at the office.— Unsplash
The image shows staff members working at the office.— Unsplash

Breathing in dust and fumes from various vapours, gases, and solvents that are frequently used at work may raise the chance of getting rheumatoid arthritis, according to a recent study published in the journal Annals of Rheumatic Diseases.

Up to one in 100 people worldwide are affected with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a chronic disease that causes autoimmune joint discomfort and inflammation. There is evidence that smoking cigarettes increase the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis as well, but there is less evidence that occupational pollutants cause the disease. 

The average person with a conventional day job spends about eight hours every day in their office, which might result in significant long-term exposure to numerous contaminants.

Researchers analysed data from the Swedish Epidemiological Investigation of RA, which comprised 4,033 individuals with newly diagnosed RA between 1996 and 2017, to analyse this risk. Nearly 6,500 healthy individuals without arthritis who were matched for age and sex made up the control group. 

Additionally, the study's authors gathered data on previous employment and utilised it to calculate each person's exposure to 32 distinct airborne chemicals in a normal workplace. 

Whether a participant carries genes that may enhance their risk of having RA was also taken into account by calculating their Genetic Risk Score (GRS). Anti-citrullinated protein antibodies (ACPA) positivity is associated with a worse prognosis for RA and higher rates of joint destruction.

The researchers discovered that, compared to about 67% of individuals in the control group, over three-quarters of people with rheumatoid arthritis who tested positive (73%) and negative (72%) for ACPA were exposed to at least one of the workplace dust or fumes. They found that exposure to the agents raised the probability of developing RA, and that smoking and inherited risk factors made this situation considerably worse.

Smoking, having a high GRS, and being exposed to pollutants at work are referred to as "triple exposure," and this group showed a connection to arthritis start that was 16 to 68 times stronger than "triple non-exposure." 

The research team also discovered that exposures lasting between eight and 15 years had the greatest effect on health outcomes. Over time, men were exposed to dangerous substances at a higher rate than women.

Particularly, 17 of the 32 agents, such as asbestos, diesel fumes, gasoline, carbon monoxide, and fungicides, showed a substantial correlation with an increased risk of ACPA-positive disease. Only three substances were linked to ACPA-negative disease: quartz dust, asbestos, and detergents.

The team concluded that environmental factors should be regularly taken into account in RA diagnosis even if this study is observational and cannot prove a causal relationship between RA and occupational emissions.