Development of an occupational airborne chemical exposure matrix

S S Sadhra, The Occupational COPD Research Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
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BACKGROUND: Population-based studies of the occupational contribution to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease generally rely on self-reported exposures to vapours, gases, dusts and fumes (VGDF), which are susceptible to misclassification.

AIMS: To develop an airborne chemical job exposure matrix (ACE JEM) for use with the UK Standard Occupational Classification (SOC 2000) system.

METHODS: We developed the ACE JEM in stages: (i) agreement of definitions, (ii) a binary assignation of exposed/not exposed to VGDF, fibres or mists (VGDFFiM), for each of the individual 353 SOC codes and (iii) assignation of levels of exposure (L; low, medium and high) and (iv) the proportion of workers (P) likely to be exposed in each code. We then expanded the estimated exposures to include biological dusts, mineral dusts, metals, diesel fumes and asthmagens.

RESULTS: We assigned 186 (53%) of all SOC codes as exposed to at least one category of VGDFFiM, with 23% assigned as having medium or high exposure. We assigned over 68% of all codes as not being exposed to fibres, gases or mists. The most common exposure was to dusts (22% of codes with >50% exposed); 12% of codes were assigned exposure to fibres. We assigned higher percentages of the codes as exposed to diesel fumes (14%) compared with metals (8%).

CONCLUSIONS: We developed an expert-derived JEM, using a strict set of a priori defined rules. The ACE JEM could also be applied to studies to assess risks of diseases where the main route of occupational exposure is via inhalation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)358-364
Number of pages7
JournalOccupational medicine (Oxford, England)
Issue number5
Early online date11 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

© Crown copyright 2016.
This Open Access article contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0 (


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational/analysis
  • Dust/analysis
  • Humans
  • Occupational Exposure/adverse effects
  • Occupational Health Services/methods
  • Occupations/classification
  • Particulate Matter/adverse effects
  • Risk Factors
  • Vehicle Emissions/analysis


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