Objective This study aimed to investigate the rate of occupational sensitization to horse hair in grooms and whether occupational exposure to horse hair increases respiratory and allergic symptoms and affects lung function in grooms or not.
Methods This is a cross-sectional study. Two hundred grooms were randomly selected among 1000 grooms working in Veliefendi Hippodrome of Istanbul. One hundred and twenty-five subjects agreed to enter the study. Ninety-two workers who worked in the different parts of this hippodrome enrolled as the control group. A detailed questionnaire including respiratory and allergic symptoms was filled in, physical examination, skin prick tests and pulmonary function tests were performed.
Results Sensitization to horse hair was 12.8% in grooms and 4.3% in controls. The difference was statistically significant (P = 0.0035). Asthma was found in 14.4% of the grooms and 5.4% of the controls, allergic rhinitis in 42.4% of the grooms and 18.4% of the controls, allergic conjunctivitis in 35.2% of the grooms and 15.2% of the controls, and allergic skin diseases in 32.8% of the grooms and 13% of the controls. The differences were statistically significant (P = 0.043, P = 0.0002, P = 0.001 and P = 0.0008, respectively). The means of FEV1, FEV1/FVC and FVC parameters were significantly lower in the groom group (P = 0.006, P = 0.001 and P = 0.003, respectively). In the multivariate analysis, being in the groom group and working years were found to be predictive factors for impairments of lung function (P < 0.001 and P = 0.002, respectively).
Conclusion Occupational exposure to horse increases the sensitization to horse hair, induces asthma and allergic symptoms and also impairs lung functions.