Work environment factors and respiratory complaints in Norwegian cooks
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionInternational Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health. 2019, 1-8. 10.1007/s00420-019-01473-w
Purpose Norwegian cooks exhibit relatively high mortality, particularly from respiratory diseases. Both occupational hazards and lifestyle factors have been suggested as possible explanations. Negative health effects from exposure to cooking fumes are well documented in non-Western populations, and it has been claimed that cooking fumes in Western style cooking might be substantially different. We hypothesise that exposure to cooking fumes contributes to respiratory diseases also in professional cooks in Western countries. The aim of this study was to elucidate if specific work environment factors related to cooking fume exposure are determinants for respiratory morbidity in Norwegian cooks. Methods We surveyed specific work environment factors and respiratory complaints in 553 subjects that were currently working as skilled cooks. Inclusion was based on the register of people that had graduated as skilled cooks in central Norway between 1988 and 2008. Determinants for the occurrence of respiratory complaints were explored by logistic regression. Results Overall, 17.2% of subjects reported respiratory complaints at work, while 8.1% had chronic bronchitis. Those who performed frying for over half of their workday exhibited an increased odds ratio for having chronic bronchitis of 2.5 (95% CI 1.2–5.3). Using gas for frying and using a fryer in the kitchen were also related to the occurrence of respiratory complaints. Conclusions This study in Norwegian cooks demonstrates a relationship between the extent of frying and the occurrence of work-related respiratory complaints. Therefore, reducing exposure to cooking fumes could reduce respiratory complaints in cooks, and potentially help alleviate excess morbidity and mortality in this occupation.