There is only little and furthermore conflicting knowledge about the relationship between passive smoking and allergy in adults. In this work, we assess the association between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) at home or at work, and allergic sensitization and allergic rhinitis in 4093 German adults.
Our study population comes from the German National Health Survey 1998 of which we analyzed 4093 adults (17-79 years) being non-smokers and having complete information on passive smoking and allergy. The association between ETS exposure and allergic sensitization and allergic rhinitis was assessed using logistic regression models.
The effect of ETS exposure on allergic sensitization was biggest at the workplace [adjusted OR = 1.17 (0.97, 1.41)]; the same could be observed with respect to allergic rhinitis [adjusted OR = 1.20 (0.96, 1.51)]. There was no effect of ETS exposure at home on both allergic sensitization [adjusted OR = 0.99 (0.76, 1.29)] and allergic rhinitis [adjusted OR = 1.05 (0.76, 1.43)] in our analysis.
The findings from our study show a statistically non-significant tendency that exposure to ETS at the workplace increases allergic sensitization and allergic rhinitis in adults. This tendency could not be observed with respect to ETS exposure at home.
Exposure to ETS at the workplace should be minimized in order to reduce the risk of allergic sensitization, and allergic rhinitis.