Builders more prone to heart attacks

Builders who are exposed to airborne particles in the workplace are more likely than others to die of a heart attack. A major new study has shown that there have been few improvements in builders' working environments over the last 25 years.

The study, carried out by researchers in Gothenburg and Umeå, is based on health data collected from 176,309 Swedish male construction workers from the 1970s onwards.

The researchers compared the builders’ data to that of a control group consisting of 71,778 workers who were not exposed to the airborne particles.

During the 25 year follow-up period, 7,273 men in the larger group died of heart attacks and 1,813 died of strokes.

The corresponding figures for the control group were 1,790 and 497.

“The increased risk may not look so dramatic, around twelve percent when the whole group is taken into account, but it still means that many people die each year as a result of risks in their workplaces,” professor Kjell Torén from Sahlgrenska University Hospital told newspaper Göteborgs-Posten.

According to Torén, who led the study, workers are exposed to the same airborne particles today as they were 25 years ago. These include solvents, varnishes, diesel smoke and cement dust.