A hazardous-waste-treatment plant that housed an incinerator began operation in 1984, before which a baseline survey of the surrounding population and environment was conducted; 10 y later, investigators studied the same subjects. Researchers focused on mercury exposure because mercury concentrations were present in the stack emissions, and environmental monitoring revealed mercury concentrations near the plant. In 1984 and 1994 the median hair mercury concentrations were 0.5 mg/kg and 0.8 mg/kg, respectively. During the 10-y period, median hair total mercury concentrations increased by 0.35 mg/kg in workers (n = 11); by 0.16 mg/kg, 0.13 mg/kg, and 0.03 mg/kg in individuals who lived 2 km (n = 45), 2-4 km (n = 38), and 5 km (n = 30) from the plant, respectively; and by 0.02 mg/kg in the reference group (n = 55). In summary, mercury exposure increased as distance from the plant decreased; however, the increase in exposure was minimal and, on the basis of current knowledge, did not pose a health risk.
It has been suggested that ultrafine particles in urban air may cause the health effects associated with thoracic particles (PM10). We therefore compared the effects of daily variations in particles of different sizes on peak expiratory flow (PEF) during a 57-day follow-up of 39 asthmatic children aged 7-12 years. The main source of particulate air pollution in the area was traffic. In addition to the measurements of PM10 and black smoke (BS) concentrations, an electric aerosol spectrometer was used to measure particle number concentrations in six size classes ranging from 0.01 to 10.0 microns. Daily variations in BS and particle number concentrations in size ranges between 0.032 and 0.32 micron and between 1.0 and 10.0 microns were highly intercorrelated (correlation coefficients about 0.9). Correlations with PM10 were somewhat lower (below 0.7). All these pollutants tended also to be associated with declines in morning PEF. However, the only statistically significant associations were observed with PM10 and BS. Different time lags of PM10 were also most consistently associated with declines in PEF. Therefore, in the present study on asthmatic children, the concentration of ultrafine particles was no more strongly associated with variations in PEF than PM10 or BS, as has earlier been suggested.
Certain housing characteristics increase the risk for moisture damage, which has been associated with increased risk for asthma in children. Modeling moisture damage as a function of these characteristics could therefore provide a simple tool to estimate building-related risk for asthma. This study aimed to find out specific associations between asthma case-control status of children and moisture damage and housing characteristics. The data consisted of information on 121 asthmatic children and predominately two age-, gender- and place of residence-matched control children for every case, and information on moisture damage and housing characteristics in the homes of the children. In a previous study, we found a statistically significant association between moisture damage observations in main living areas and asthma in children. Using logistic regression, five models were formulated to predict moisture damage status of the homes and moisture damage status of living areas. The models were able to classify the damage status correctly in 65.0-87.7% of the homes (kappa values 0.10-0.47) as functions of housing characteristics. None of the models qualified as a significant determinant of the case-control status of the children.
It can be hypothesized that building-related risk for asthma could be roughly estimated using models predicting moisture damage status of buildings as a function of easily obtainable housing characteristics. The results of this study indicated that, with a moderate certainty, it is possible to model moisture damage status of buildings using housing characteristics. However, the models developed did not associate with asthma in children. In conclusion, it was not possible to estimate the risk for asthma by studying housing characteristics only, but detailed information on moisture damage (e.g. location of damage) was crucial for such estimation.
To evaluate the associations between social class as defined by occupation, health behaviour, and mortality from all causes and coronary heart disease among middle aged men and women in eastern Finland.
Prospective observational study of two independent, random population samples examined in 1972 and 1977.
North Karelia and Kuopio, Finland.
8967 men and 9694 women aged 30-64 years at the beginning of the follow up study. The subjects were followed up for mortality up till 1987 by using the National Death Registry.
Altogether 1429 men and 620 women died during the follow up, 603 men and 164 women of coronary heart disease. Among both sexes, compared with white collar workers unskilled blue collar workers had more adverse risk factors and also higher mortality due to coronary heart disease, other cardiovascular diseases, cancer, violent causes, and all other causes. Among men the age adjusted relative risk for all cause mortality in unskilled blue collar workers v white collar workers was reduced from 1.86 (95% confidence interval 1.55 to 2.22) to 1.47 (1.23 to 1.77) when adjusted for smoking, serum cholesterol concentration, hypertension, body mass index, and physical activity in leisure time. Among women the corresponding reduction in hazard ratio was from 1.49 (1.15 to 1.92) to 1.39 (1.07 to 1.81). The respective hazard ratios for coronary heart disease were 1.54 (1.16 to 2.02) and 1.22 (0.92 to 1.61) among men and 1.74 (1.05 to 2.90) and 1.66 (0.99 to 2.79) among women.
Unfavourable cardiovascular risk factors and high mortality are concentrated among lower social classes in Finland. Among men about half of the excess coronary and all cause mortality among unskilled blue collar workers was associated with their unfavourable risk factor profile. The association was smaller in women.
Cites: Int J Health Sci. 1992;3(3-4):157-6612345858
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To investigate the role of diet as a predictor of glucose intolerance and non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM).
At the 30-year follow-up survey of the Dutch and Finnish cohorts of the Seven Countries Study, in 1989/1990, men were examined according to a standardized protocol including a 2-h oral glucose tolerance test. Information on habitual food consumption was obtained using the cross-check dietary history method. Those 338 men in whom information on habitual diet was also available 20 years earlier were included in this study. Subjects known as having diabetes in 1989/1990 were excluded from the analyses.
Adjusting for age and cohort, the intake of total, saturated, and monounsaturated fatty acids and dietary cholesterol 20 years before diagnosis was higher in men with newly diagnosed diabetes in the survey than in men with normal or impaired glucose tolerance. After adjustment for cohort, age, past body mass index, and past energy intake, the past intake of total fat was positively associated with 2-h postload glucose level (P
The aim of this study was to analyse the prevalence of mouldy homes and their association with respiratory symptoms and diseases in a subarctic climate. A questionnaire was mailed to a random sample of 2,000 males and females, aged 25-64 yrs, living in the county of Kuopio, Finland. A total of 1,521 (76%) responded and 1,460 were selected for the final analysis. The prevalence of homes with visible mould was 4%; with the odour of mould 5%; with damp spots, visible mould or the odour of mould 15%; and with moisture/ water damage, damp spots, visible mould or the odour of mould 23%. The number of reports of bronchitis, common cold, atopy, allergic rhinitis, rhinitis, fever and chills, hoarseness, fatigue, difficulties in concentration, lumbar backache and stomach ache were strongly associated with living in a damp home. Bronchitis, hoarseness and difficulties in concentration had the strongest associations, with adjusted odds ratios (95% confidence limits) of: 2.04 (1.49-2.78), 2.23 (1.37-3.63) and 2.17 (1.35-3.50), respectively. After controlling for a possible reporting bias by excluding those subjects reporting lumbar backache and recurrent stomach pain, eye irritation and tiredness remained significant. In conclusion, living in a home with mould problems may increase the risk of respiratory infections and symptoms in adults.
To compare differences in coronary heart disease (CHD) risk factor levels between educational groups in the 1970s and 1980s in eastern Finland.
Independent, cross sectional population surveys were undertaken in 1972, 1977, 1982, and 1987 of randomly selected men and women aged 30-59 living in two provinces in eastern Finland. Altogether 20,096 subjects participated. The lowest observed level of participation in either sex or province in any year was 77%. Serum cholesterol values and blood pressure measurements, body mass index, smoking, and the level of education were determined in each survey using comparable methodology.
More poorly educated men and women had higher levels of all risk factors at the end of the study period (1987). There was no change between 1972 and 1987 in differences between educational groups in mean serum cholesterol values and the diastolic blood pressure level in either sex, and in smoking in men. In women, the proportion of smokers was highest in the better educated in the 1970s but lowest in this group in the 1980s (interaction between year of examination and educational level p
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To describe the small area system developed in Finland. To illustrate the use of the system with analyses of incidence of lung cancer around an asbestos mine. To compare the performance of different spatial statistical models when applied to sparse data.
In the small area system, cancer and population data are available by sex, age, and socioeconomic status in adjacent "pixels", squares of size 0.5 km x 0.5 km. The study area was partitioned into sub-areas based on estimated exposure. The original data at the pixel level were used in a spatial random field model. For comparison, standardised incidence ratios were estimated, and full bayesian and empirical bayesian models were fitted to aggregated data. Incidence of lung cancer around a former asbestos mine was used as an illustration.
The spatial random field model, which has been used in former small area studies, did not converge with present fine resolution data. The number of neighbouring pixels used in smoothing had to be enlarged, and informative distributions for hyperparameters were used to stabilise the unobserved random field. The ordered spatial random field model gave lower estimates than the Poisson model. When one of the three effects of area were fixed, the model gave similar estimates with a narrower interval than the Poisson model.
The use of fine resolution data and socioeconomic status as a means of controlling for confounding related to lifestyle is useful when estimating risk of cancer around point sources. However, better statistical methods are needed for spatial modelling of fine resolution data.
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In 1984 and 1985, 25-year follow-up studies were carried out in the Italian, Finnish, and Dutch cohorts of men originally examined around 1960 in the Seven Countries Study. Risk factors for coronary heart disease were determined in 2,255 men aged 65-84 years. The average serum total cholesterol levels of the elderly men in Finland and the Netherlands were similar, at around 236 mg/dl (6.10 mmol/liter). The average serum total cholesterol levels of the elderly men in Italy were about 10 mg/dl (0.26 mmol/liter) lower. During 25 years of follow-up, the average serum total cholesterol level increased by 29 mg/dl (0.75 mmol/liter) among the Italian survivors, decreased by 23 mg/dl (0.59 mmol/liter) in the Finnish survivors, and did not change in the Dutch survivors. Age, Quetelet index, and coffee consumption were the most important correlates of total cholesterol in these elderly men. Quetelet index, alcohol consumption, age, and cigarette smoking were significantly associated with high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. The results of this study suggest that modifiable risk factors are related to total and HDL cholesterol in elderly men in different cultures.
Perinatal factors during delivery might modulate fetal immunological development and thereby be associated with the development of allergic diseases and asthma later.
Perinatal data was recorded during pregnancy and at the time of delivery in regard to 5823 children who were born in Northern Finland in 1985-1986. Data from self-administered questionnaires were available at the ages of 7 and 15-16 years and skin prick tests for four main allergens were carried out at the age of 15-16 years. Only singletons delivered by the vaginal route were analyzed.
There was a higher prevalence of doctor-diagnosed asthma at any time of life among children who were delivered by vacuum extraction (RR 1.80, 95% CI 1.27-2.56; P
In similarity to many other western countries, the burden of allergic diseases in Finland is high. Studies worldwide have shown that an environment rich in microbes in early life reduces the subsequent risk of developing allergic diseases. Along with urbanization, such exposure has dramatically reduced, both in terms of diversity and quantity. Continuous stimulation of the immune system by environmental saprophytes via the skin, respiratory tract and gut appears to be necessary for activation of the regulatory network including regulatory T-cells and dendritic cells. Substantial evidence now shows that the balance between allergy and tolerance is dependent on regulatory T-cells. Tolerance induced by allergen-specific regulatory T-cells appears to be the normal immunological response to allergens in non atopic healthy individuals. Healthy subjects have an intact functional allergen-specific regulatory T-cell response, which in allergic subjects is impaired. Evidence on this exists with respect to atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, allergic rhinitis and asthma. Restoration of impaired allergen-specific regulatory T-cell response and tolerance induction has furthermore been demonstrated during allergen-specific subcutaneous and sublingual immunotherapy and is crucial for good therapeutic outcome. However, tolerance can also be strengthened unspecifically by simple means, e.g. by consuming farm milk and spending time in nature. Results so far obtained from animal models indicate that it is possible to restore tolerance by administering the allergen in certain circumstances both locally and systemically. It has become increasingly clear that continuous exposure to microbial antigens as well as allergens in foodstuffs and the environment is decisive, and excessive antigen avoidance can be harmful and weaken or even prevent the development of regulatory mechanisms. Success in the Finnish Asthma Programme was an encouraging example of how it is possible to reduce both the costs and morbidity of asthma. The time, in the wake of the Asthma Programme, is now opportune for a national allergy programme, particularly as in the past few years, fundamentally more essential data on tolerance and its mechanisms have been published. In this review, the scientific rationale for the Finnish Allergy Programme 2008-2018 is outlined. The focus is on tolerance and how to endorse tolerance at the population level.
Western lifestyle is associated with high prevalence of allergy, asthma and other chronic inflammatory disorders. To explain this association, we tested the 'biodiversity hypothesis', which posits that reduced contact of children with environmental biodiversity, including environmental microbiota in natural habitats, has adverse consequences on the assembly of human commensal microbiota and its contribution to immune tolerance.
We analysed four study cohorts from Finland and Estonia (n = 1044) comprising children and adolescents aged 0.5-20 years. The prevalence of atopic sensitization was assessed by measuring serum IgE specific to inhalant allergens. We calculated the proportion of five land-use types--forest, agricultural land, built areas, wetlands and water bodies--in the landscape around the homes using the CORINE2006 classification.
The cover of forest and agricultural land within 2-5 km from the home was inversely and significantly associated with atopic sensitization. This relationship was observed for children 6 years of age and older. Land-use pattern explained 20% of the variation in the relative abundance of Proteobacteria on the skin of healthy individuals, supporting the hypothesis of a strong environmental effect on the commensal microbiota.
The amount of green environment (forest and agricultural land) around homes was inversely associated with the risk of atopic sensitization in children. The results indicate that early-life exposure to green environments is especially important. The environmental effect may be mediated via the effect of environmental microbiota on the commensal microbiota influencing immunotolerance.
Cites: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Aug 17;107(33):14691-620679230
Cites: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 May 22;109(21):8334-922566627
A total of 630 randomly selected dwellings were surveyed for visible signs of moisture damage by civil engineers, and questionnaire responses were collected from the occupants (a total of 1,017 adults) to analyse the association between moisture damage and occupant health. A three-level grading system was developed, which took into account the number of damage sites in buildings and estimated the severity of the damage. In the present study, this grading system was tested as an improved model of moisture damage-related exposure in comparison to a conventional two-category system: based on independent, technical criteria it also allowed dose-response to be estimated. The questionnaire probed 28 individual health symptoms, based on earlier reported associations with building moisture and mould-related exposure. Criteria in evaluating the goodness of the selected exposure model were (1) dose-responsiveness and (2) higher risk compared to a two-level classification. Dose-responsiveness was observed with the three-level classification in 7, higher risk in 10, and both criteria in 5 out of 28 health symptoms. Two-level classification had higher risk in 4 health symptoms. Dose-dependent risk increases for respiratory infections and lower respiratory symptoms, and recurrent irritative and skin symptoms were observed with the three-level classification using symptom score variables. Although the results did not unambiguously support the three-level model, they underline the importance of developing more accurate exposure models in assessing the severity of moisture damage.
Earlier we reported that allelic variation in the gene coding for apolipoprotein (apoE is a significant predictor of variation in the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) death in a longitudinal study of elderly Finnish men. Here we address the question: which of the apoE genotypes confers the risk information in these men, and whether such information persists after other CHD risk factors are considered? We followed two cohorts of elderly Finnish men aged 65 to 84 years, one in Eastern (n = 281) and the other in the Southwestern (n = 344) Finland for 5 years during which 26 (9.3%) of the men from the Eastern cohort and 40 (11.6%) of the men in the Southwestern cohort died from CHD. Baseline high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and (HDL cholesterol)2 in the Eastern cohort and age, and total and HDL cholesterol and smoking status in the Southwestern cohort were significant predictors of CHD death (P
One hundred seventy-two preschool children, aged three to six years, who attended municipal day-care centers in central and suburban areas of Helsinki, were followed up for seven weeks during the winter season and for eight weeks during the spring season in 1991. For each child, the weekly average NO2 exposure was estimated using passive samplers attached to the outer garments of the children during their everyday activities. Respiratory symptoms were recorded in daily diaries by the parents. The median of personally measured seasonal NO2 exposures was 21 micrograms/m3 (range 11-45.8 micrograms/m3). The seasonal median NO2 exposure was significantly larger (p
It has been suggested that main risk factors for development of allergic diseases operate already during pregnancy and in early childhood.
To study the association between gestational age, birth weight, parity and parental farming with the risk of atopy and asthma in young adults.
In a prospective birth cohort study, 5192 subjects born in Northern Finland in 1966 were followed up at the age of 31. Skin prick tests were done to three of the most common allergens in Finland and to house dust mite. Data on doctor-diagnosed asthma was obtained from questionnaires. Perinatal data had already been collected during pregnancy.
The risk of atopy increased linearly with increasing length of pregnancy among babies born in the 35th weak of gestation or later. Gestational age equal to, or over 40 weeks compared with less than 36 weeks was associated with an increased risk of atopy (multivariate odds ratio 1.65, 95% CI 1.16, 2.34). The association was stronger among farmers' children (P for interaction 0.01). High parity and being a farmer's child (multivariate odds ratio 0.50, 95% CI 0.42-0.60) was associated with decreased risk of atopy. In contrast, no associations were observed for doctor-diagnosed asthma.
The results underline the importance of pregnancy and very early childhood in the development of atopy, and suggest that timing of the environmental exposure is of importance for the immune system. No association was observed for asthma, which may be due to the multifactorial origins of asthma.
Cross-sectional studies have shown an association between the farming environment and a decreased risk of atopic sensitization, mainly related to contact with farm animals in the childhood.
Investigate the association of a farming environment, especially farm animal contact, during infancy, with atopic sensitization and allergic diseases at the age of 31.
In a prospective birth cohort study, 5509 subjects born in northern Finland in 1966 were followed up at the age of 31. Prenatal exposure to the farming environment was documented before or at birth. At age 31, information on health status and childhood exposure to pets was collected by a questionnaire and skin prick tests were performed.
Being born to a family having farm animals decreased the risk of atopic sensitization [odds ratio (OR) 0.67; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.56-0.80], atopic eczema ever (OR 0.77; 95% CI 0.66-0.91), doctor-diagnosed asthma ever (OR 0.74; 95% CI 0.55-1.00), allergic rhinitis at age 31 (OR 0.87; 95% CI 0.73-1.03) and allergic conjunctivitis (OR 0.86; 95% CI 0.72-1.02) at age 31. There was a suggestion that the reduced risk of allergic sensitization was particularly evident among the subjects whose mothers worked with farm animals during pregnancy, and that the reduced risk of the above diseases by farm animal exposure was largely explained by the reduced risk of atopy. Having cats and dogs in childhood revealed similar associations as farm animals with atopic sensitization.
Contact with farm animals in early childhood reduces the risk of atopic sensitization, doctor-diagnosed asthma and allergic diseases at age 31.