Prevalence of and factors associated with Asthma in adult male leather tannery workers of Karachi, Pakistan : a cross sectional study

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Epidemiology & Biostatistics (MSc Epidemiology & Biostats)


Community Health Sciences


Asthma is one of the most common chronic inflammatory diseases of the airway. Asthma among leather tannery workers has been shown to be a major health problem. No study as yet determined the prevalence of adult asthma among leather tannery workers in Pakistan. This study aimed to estimate the prevalence of adult asthma as well as to identify the risk factors of asthma among leather tannery workers of Karachi, Pakistan. A cross sectional study was conducted from August 2003 to March 2004 on 641 leather tannery workers, chosen as a sample of convenience from 95 tanneries in Korangi industrial area, Karachi, Pakistan. Only workers associated with tanning process aged X3 years were included. Face to face interviews were performed, using a structured questionnaire, to assess asthma and various risk factors e.g. smoking, perceived allergy, duration of work and ethnicity. Multiple logistic regression analysis was done to identify the factors associated with asthma. The prevalence of asthma was 10.8%. The prevalence of asthma was higher in illiterate workers compared to the literate ones (adjusted OR : 2.13, 95% CI: 1.17-3.88). Pathans were more likely to have asthma compared to Punjabis (adjusted OR : 2.69,95% Cl : 1.35-5.36). Smokers (adjusted OR: 2.22, 95% CI: 1.16-4.26) and those who never used gloves during different tanning tasks (adjusted OR: 3.28, 95% CI: 1.72-6.26) were more likely to have asthma than non-smokers and those who used gloves, respectively. Those who perceived allergy to certain substances were at greater risk for asthma compared to non-allergic at eight years duration of work (adjusted OR: 2.26, 95% CI:1.19-4.29), there was excess risk demonstrated with increasing duration of work only for those who perceived allergy. The estimated prevalence of asthma in leather tannery workers in this study was found to be lower than that reported by Ory et al. in a study done in India. However, the estimate is higher compared to those reported in some of the studies done in general populations. Asthma in leather tannery workers was associated with educational status, ethnicity, smoking, perceived allergy and glove use.

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