Methodological evaluation of human research on asthmagenicity and occupational cleaning: A case study of quaternary ammonium compounds ("quats")
JournalAllergy, Asthma and Clinical Immunology
PublisherBioMed Central Ltd.
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractIn this paper, we review methodological approaches used in studies that evaluated the association between occupational exposure to quaternary ammonium compounds (quats) and occupational asthma. This association is of interest because quats are a common active ingredient of disinfectants and have been linked to work-related asthma in some circumstances. However, any evidence-based assessment of an exposure-outcome association needs to consider both strengths and limitations of the literature. We focus on publications cited by various US and international organizations. Eighteen investigations included in the review fall into two broad categories: case reports and challenge studies of individual patients and population studies that examined the association between quats and asthma occurrence in groups of subjects. We evaluated these studies guided by questions that address whether: exposure data on specific quat(s) and other agents that may cause asthma were included, new asthma cases were differentiated from asthma exacerbation, and information on respiratory sensitivity versus irritation was given. We also assessed consistency across studies. Studies of individual patients, particularly those that provided detailed information on challenge test results, document cases of asthma induced by exposure to quats. By contrast, studies of occupational groups with the highest potential for quats exposure (e.g., cleaners and farmers) do not consistently report increased incidence of asthma due specifically to quats. The unresolved methodological issues include: poor understanding of exposure pathways considering that quats are non-volatile, lack of quantitative data allowing for identification of an asthmagenicity threshold, insufficient information on whether quats are sensitizers or act via dose-dependent irritation or some other mechanism, and inability to quantify risk of new-onset asthma attributable to quats. Another important area of uncertainty is the lack of information on the specific quats being used. There is also a lack of data capable of distinguishing the effects of quats from those of other chemical and biological workplace exposures. The current state-of-the-science does not allow a proper assessment of the potential link between quats and occupational asthma. Copyright 2019 The Author(s).
Identifier to cite or link to this itemhttps://www.scopus.com/inward/record.uri?eid=2-s2.0-85075579265&doi=10.1186%2fs13223-019-0384-8&partnerID=40&md5=02912a8ae39e1a7e8ea12881c3cefbd8; http://hdl.handle.net/10713/11509