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Chimney sweeps in Sweden: a questionnaire-based assessment of long-term changes in work conditions, and current eye and airway symptoms.

Journal article
Authors Ayman Alhamdow
Per Gustavsson
Lars Rylander
Kristina Jakobsson
Håkan Tinnerberg
Karin Broberg
Published in International archives of occupational and environmental health
Volume 90
Issue 2
Pages 207-216
ISSN 1432-1246
Publication year 2017
Published at
Pages 207-216
Language en
Keywords Adult, Aged, Cough, epidemiology, Eye Diseases, epidemiology, Fuel Oils, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Occupational Diseases, epidemiology, Occupational Exposure, adverse effects, statistics & numerical data, Personal Protective Equipment, statistics & numerical data, Respiratory Tract Diseases, epidemiology, Soot, adverse effects, Surveys and Questionnaires, Sweden, epidemiology, Wood
Subject categories Occupational medicine


To explore chimney sweeping work tasks, chimney sweeps' use of protective equipment, and type of fuel used by clients, over time. Further, to assess work-relatedness of current eye and airway symptoms.In a cross-sectional study in 2011, male Swedish chimney sweeps (n = 483; age 21-69 years) answered a questionnaire about their occupational history and eye and airway symptoms.Between 1960 and 2010, black-soot-sweeping in private homes was the major task, although it decreased during the time period, for chimney sweeps. Between 1975 and 2010, the use of petroleum oil decreased, whereas the use of pellets and wood increased. Also, the use of gloves and masks increased significantly. Black-soot-sweeping in industry was associated with work-related eye symptoms (prevalence odds ratio POR = 3.76, 95% CI: 1.72-8.24, for every 10% increment of working time, adjusted for age and tobacco smoking). Chimney sweeps also had slightly higher prevalence of cough with increasing black-soot-sweeping (POR = 1.06, 95% CI: 0.99-1.13 for every 10% increment, further adjusted for the use of mask), and the association was more pronounced, although nonsignificant, for black-soot-sweeping in industry (adjusted POR = 1.26, 95% CI: 0.98-1.61).Chimney sweeping tasks and use of protective equipment as well as type of fuel used by the clients changed significantly over the last 35 years, which may have changed chimney sweeps' exposure to soot. Still, chimney sweeps in Sweden have black-soot-sweeping-related eye and airway symptoms.

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