Epidemiologic Study of the Autoimmune Health Effects of a Cargo Aircraft Disaster

Slottje, Pauline, Bijlsma, Joost A., Smidt, Nynke, Twisk, Jos W. R., Huizink, Anja C., Lems, Willem F., van Hoogstraten, Ingrid, Witteveen, Anke B., van Mechelen, Willem and Smid,Tjabe (2005) Epidemiologic Study of the Autoimmune Health Effects of a Cargo Aircraft Disaster. Archives of Internal Medicine, 165 19: 2278-2285. doi:10.1001/archinte.165.19.2278

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Author Slottje, Pauline
Bijlsma, Joost A.
Smidt, Nynke
Twisk, Jos W. R.
Huizink, Anja C.
Lems, Willem F.
van Hoogstraten, Ingrid
Witteveen, Anke B.
van Mechelen, Willem
Title Epidemiologic Study of the Autoimmune Health Effects of a Cargo Aircraft Disaster
Journal name Archives of Internal Medicine   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0003-9926
Publication date 2005-10-24
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1001/archinte.165.19.2278
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 165
Issue 19
Start page 2278
End page 2285
Total pages 8
Place of publication Chicago, IL, United States
Publisher American Medical Association.
Language eng
Abstract Background: In the aftermath of a cargo aircraft crash in Amsterdam in 1992, indications of autoimmune disorders appeared in some of the affected population. Methods: This epidemiologic study sought to determine the possible long-term autoimmune health effects of the aircraft disaster on professional assistance workers. Exposed professional firefighters (n = 334) and police officers (n = 834) who performed at least 1 disaster-related task and hangar workers who sorted and investigated the wreckage (n = 241) were compared with reference groups of nonexposed colleagues who did not perform any disaster-related tasks (n = 194, n = 634, and n = 104, respectively). Data were collected a mean of 8.5 years after the disaster. Questionnaires were used to assess disaster-related tasks and 11 autoimmune-like symptoms. All serum samples were tested for the presence of antinuclear antibodies, rheumatoid factor, and antineutrophil cytoplasmic and anticardiolipin antibodies. Results: Compared with nonexposed colleagues, exposed workers reported significantly more autoimmune-like symptoms. They reported the following symptoms significantly more often: tingling sensations, myalgia, loss of strength, easily fatigued, and a feeling of sand in the eyes (all groups); infection proneness (firefighters); skin abnormalities and nocturnal transpiration (police officers and hangar workers); and vasculitis-like symptoms and Raynaud discoloring (police officers). In contrast, we found no significant difference between exposed and nonexposed workers in autoantibody prevalence. Conclusion: Occupational exposure to the aircraft disaster resulted in an excess of long-term self-reported autoimmune-like symptoms in exposed professional assistance workers, but there was no difference between exposed and nonexposed workers in the prevalence of autoantibodies.
Q-Index Code C1
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences Publications
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