Building-related risk factors and work-related lower respiratory symptoms in 80 office building
We assessed building-related risk factors for lower respiratory symptoms in office workers. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in 1993 collected data during indoor environmental health investigations of workplaces. We used multivariate logistic regression analyses to assess relationships between lower respiratory symptoms in office workers and risk factors plausibly related to microbiologic contamination. Among 2,435 occupants in 80 office buildings, frequent, work-related multiple lower respiratory symptoms were strongly associated, in multivariate models, with two risk factors for microbiologic contamination: poor pan drainage under cooling coils and debris in outside air intake. Associations tended to be stronger among those with a history of physician-diagnosed asthma. These findings suggest that adverse lower respiratory health effects from indoor work environments, although unusual, may occur in relation to poorly designed or maintained ventilation systems, particularly among previously diagnosed asthmatics. These findings require confirmation in more representative buildings.