Author(s): Laney AS, Cragin LA, Blevins LZ, Sumner AD, CoxGanser JM,
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Abstract Sarcoidosis is a granulomatous disease of unknown etiology with evidence of association with exposure to microbial agents. In June 2006, we investigated a sarcoidosis cluster among office workers in a water-damaged building. In the course of the investigation, we became aware of a high rate of respiratory complaints including asthma and asthma-like symptoms. We conducted case finding for physician-diagnosed sarcoidosis and asthma and administered a health questionnaire survey and pulmonary function tests (PFTs) to consenting occupants. We compared prevalence ratios (PRs) to the Environmental Protection Agency's Building Assessment Survey and Evaluation study (BASE) and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). We identified six sarcoidosis cases. The current building prevalence is 2206 cases/100,000 population, elevated, compared with the US population range of <1-40 cases/100,000. Of current occupants, 77\% (105) participated in the health questionnaire survey and 64\% (87) in PFTs. Physician-diagnosed asthma was elevated, compared with the US adult population. Adult asthma incidence was 3.3/1000 person-years during the period before building occupancy and 11.5/1000 person-years during the period after building occupancy. Comparisons with US office workers (BASE) yielded elevated PRs for shortness of breath [PR, 9.6; 95\% confidence interval (CI), 6.1-15.2], wheeze (PR, 9.1; 95\% CI 5.6-14.6), and chest tightness (PR, 5.1; 95\% CI 2.8-9.0). PFT results supported reports of respiratory symptoms and diagnoses. Based on our findings building occupants were relocated. PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS: The remission of occupational asthma caused by certain known antigens improves with early diagnosis and removal from exposure. As a suspected antigen-mediated disease, sarcoidosis might also benefit if affected persons are isolated from continued exposure. Our investigation identified a high prevalence of new-onset sarcoidosis, and asthma among workers of a water damaged building with a history of indoor environmental quality complaints. Removal of all individuals from such environments until completion of building diagnostics, environmental sampling and complete remediation is a prudent measure when feasible.
This article was published in Indoor Air
and referenced in Journal of Pulmonary & Respiratory Medicine