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Open Access Research article

Prevalence and determinants of asthma in adult male leather tannery workers in Karachi, Pakistan: A cross sectional study

Khurram Shahzad12*, Saeed Akhtar13 and Sadia Mahmud1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Community Health Sciences, Aga Khan University, Karachi 74800, Pakistan

2 Family Health International, Pakistan Country Office, Islamabad, Pakistan

3 Department of Community Medicine & Behavioral Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Kuwait University, PO Box 24923, Safat 13110, Kuwait

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BMC Public Health 2006, 6:292  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-292

Published: 5 December 2006



This study aimed to estimate the prevalence and to identify some risk factors of adult asthma in male leather tannery workers in Karachi, Pakistan.


A cross sectional study was conducted from August 2003 to March 2004 on leather tannery workers of Karachi, Pakistan. Data were collected from 641 workers engaged in 95 different tanneries in Korangi industrial area selected as sample of convenience. Face to face interviews were performed using a structured pre-tested questionnaire by trained data collectors.


Prevalence of adult asthma was 10.8% (69/641) in this study population. The prevalence of perceived work-related asthma was 5.3% (34/641). Multivariable logistic regression model showed that after taking into account the age effect, the leather tannery worker were more likely to be asthmatic, if they were illiterate (adjusted OR = 2.13, 95% CI: 1.17–3.88), of Pathan ethnicity (adjusted OR = 2.69; 95% CI: 1.35–5.36), ever-smoked (adjusted OR = 2.22, 95% CI: 1.16–4.26), reportedly never used gloves during different tanning tasks (OR = 3.28; 95% CI : 1.72–6.26). Also, the final model showed a significant interaction between perceived allergy and duration of work. Those who perceived to have allergy were more likely to have asthma if their duration of work was 8 years (adjusted OR = 2.26; 95% CI: 1.19 – 4.29) and this relationship was even stronger if duration was 13 years (adjusted OR = 3.67; 95% CI: 1.98–6.79).


Prevalence of asthma in leather tannery workers appears to be high and is associated with educational status, ethnicity, smoking, glove use, perceived to have allergy and duration of work.