Occupational exposures associated with work-related asthma and work-related wheezing among U.S. workers

Authors


Abstract

Background

National estimates of occupational asthma (OA) in the United States are sparse.

Methods

Using data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) 1988–1994, we analyzed associations between occupation and work-related asthma and work-related wheezing among U.S. workers.

Results

This study identified several occupations that were at risk of developing work-related asthma and/or wheezing, with cleaners and equipment cleaners showing the highest risks. Other major occupations identified were farm and agriculture; entertainment; protective services; construction; mechanics and repairers; textile; fabricators and assemblers; other transportation and material moving occupations; freight, stock, and material movers; and motor vehicle operators. The population attributable risks for work-related asthma and work-related wheezing were 26% and 27%, respectively.

Conclusions

This study adds evidence to the literature that identifies work-related asthma as an important public health problem. Several occupations are targeted for additional evaluation and study. Of particular interest are cleaners, which are being increasingly reported as a risk group for asthma. Future intervention strategies need to be developed for effective control and prevention of asthma in the workplace. Am. J. Ind. Med. 44:368–376, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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