For oil spill response and cleanup workers, total hydrocarbons (THCs) and benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, o-, m-, and p-xylenes and n-hexane (BTEX-H) chemicals are associated with increased asthma risk, according to a study published in Environment International. Kaitlyn G. Lawrence, PhD, and colleagues examined the link between asthma and oil spill-related exposures, including job classes, THCs, individual BTEX-H chemicals, BTEX-H mixture, and fine particulate matter, using data from the Gulf Long-Term Follow-up Study. The study included 24,937 cleanup workers and 7,671 nonworkers following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster. The analysis focused on 19,018 workers without asthma before the spill. The risk for asthma was greater for oil spill response and cleanup workers than nonworkers (risk ratio, 1.60). Increased estimated THC exposure levels were associated with an elevated risk in an exposure-dependent manner. Increasing exposure to individual BTEX-H chemicals and the BTEX-H mixture was also associated with asthma risk. An increased asthma risk of 1.45 was seen in association with a simultaneous quartile increase in the BTEX-H mixture.
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