We estimated the association between occupational exposures to five different organic dusts: wood, animal, paper, textile and flour dust and the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
This population-based case-control study analysed 12?582 incident cases and 129?335 controls. Participants were identified from national public authority and quality registers. Census data on occupations were collected 1960-2010 and we estimated the exposure to organic dust with the help of job-exposure matrices. We used logistic regression to assess the OR of seropositive or seronegative RA. Estimates were adjusted for the matching variables (sex, county, age and index year), education and occupational silica exposure.
Exposure to animal dust was associated with an increased risk of RA among both men and women. The OR was 1.2 (95% CI=1.1 to 1.4) for seropositive RA and 1.3 (95% CI=1.1 to 1.5) for seronegative RA among ever exposed participants compared with unexposed. The risk increased with duration of exposure for seropositive RA, and participants who had been exposed in five or more censuses had an OR of 1.6 (95% CI=1.1 to 2.2, p for trend=0.003). Exposure to textile dust also generated a significant dose-response relationship for seropositive RA (p for trend=0.014). We detected no association between exposure to wood, paper or flour dust and risk of RA.
Overall, exposure to animal dust and textile dust was associated with an increased risk of developing RA. These observations give further support to the notion that airborne exposures are involved in the aetiology of RA.