Risk of sarcoidosis and seropositive rheumatoid arthritis from occupational silica exposure in Swedish iron foundries: a retrospective cohort study

This study investigated the impact of occupational silica exposure on the incidence rates of sarcoidosis and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in a cohort of exposed workers in Swedish iron foundries. The prevalence of sarcoidosis and RA in a cohort of silica exposed workers was compared with the prevalence in the general Swedish population in this register study. A mixed model was used to calculate silica exposure, and individual silica exposures were used to compute dose responses. Personnel records from 10 iron foundries were used to identify workers whose employment began before 2005 which was then linked to the national non-primary outpatient visits register. The final cohort consisted of 2187 silica-exposed male workers who had been employed for at least 1?year and were still alive without having emigrated when the follow-up study began. The cohort’s employment period covers 23 807 person-years at risk. The presented results indicate that moderate to high levels of silica exposure increase risks for sarcoidosis and seropositive RA. Mean levels of airborne silica dust in the foundries decreased significantly between the 1970s and 2000s. Incidence rates of sarcoidosis (3.94; 95%?CI 1.07 to 10.08) and seropositive RA (2.59; 95%?CI 1.24 to 4.76) were significantly higher among highly exposed individuals. The authors concluded that the results reveal increased risks for sarcoidosis and seropositive RA among individuals with high exposure to silica dust (>0.048?mg/m(3)) compared with non-exposed and less-exposed groups.

Authors: Vihlborg P, Bryngelsson IL, Andersson L, Graff P. ; Full Source: BMJ Open. 2017 Jul 20;7(7): e016839. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-016839.