Fluoride Action Network


Exposures to respiratory irritants encountered in aluminum smelters in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand have been suggested as the cause of “potroom asthma.” However, there remains disagreement in North America regarding the existence of this entity. This study was designed to assess whether asthma occurs excessively among potroom workers and if so, delineate dose-response relationships for possible causal risk factors. The asthma incidence ratio between potroom and nonpotroom workers after adjusting for smoking was 1.40. Although bivariate analyses showed a relationship between asthma incidence and exposure to total fluoride, gaseous fluoride, particulate fluoride, sulfur dioxide, and smoking, only the effects of gaseous fluoride (relative risk [RR] = 5.1) and smoking (RR = 7.7) remained significant in a multivariate model. Potroom asthma appears to occur at the studied U.S. aluminum smelters at doses within regulatory guidelines.