• epidemiology;
  • nasal;
  • rhinitis allergy;
  • allergic rhinitis;
  • pollution

From 1200 households selected at random, 2114 questionnaires were returned from individuals over 14 years old. They reported that in the previous year the prevalence of ‘symptoms of nasal obstruction every day for more than 14 consecutive days’ was 16.9%; 19.8% had had a ‘runny nose’; 7.1% reported sneezing bouts; and 19.6% had hay fever during the same period. Also, 13.7% had had rhinosinusitis in the previous year using the criterion of ‘two out of three symptoms of congestion, rhinorrhoea and sneezing for more than 1 h per day for a period in excess of 2 weeks’. The prevalence of perennial symptoms in individuals who did not have hay fever was 8.6%. Over the previous 2 years 18.2% of all respondents had visited their General Practitioner and 0.2% had visited a hospital as a result of their hay fever. Individuals who responded as having hay fever were significantly more likely to have worked in an environment with a lot of dust in the last 2 years than asymptomatic respondents (χ2, P= 0.002), although fume exposure was not found to be a significant risk factor (P= 0.0681). Individuals with perennial symptoms were no more likely to have been working in a dusty or smoky environment. In those with either seasonal or perennial symptoms there was no significant effect of either social class or manual/nonmanual occupation.