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Occupational and environmental medicine.
JAMA J Am Med Assoc 1996 Jun; 275(23):1831-1832
Recent important developments in occupational and environmental medicine were discussed. Occupational asthma (OA) and low back pain (LBP) were considered the most common occupational disorders in the United States. In the US and elsewhere, substantial increases in asthma morbidity and mortality have been observed in recent years, especially among persons under 45 years (yr) of age. Asthma mortality has increased among those younger than 35yr. More than 150 agents in the work environment are now known to cause asthma. OA can also occur in persons with intrinsic asthma following work related and environmental exposure to nonsensitizing irritants such as chlorine (7782505). It has been suggested that as many as 33% of adult asthma cases can be attributed to occupational factors. Isocyanates, aldehydes, and welding and soldering fumes are considered leading causes of OA. More recent studies have also suggested that OA can be caused by machining fluids or cutting oils. It was noted that recognizing the contribution of work to asthma is important both for clinical care and the future employability of affected workers. It has been estimated that 25% of all worker compensation cases and 33% of all compensation costs result from back problems and that as many as 10% of all workers will stop working or change jobs because of LBP. Lifting, pulling, or pushing objects and awkward postures have been identified as major risk factors for LBP, accounting for up to 50% of all cases of adult LBP. Programs based on preventing LBP are considered the most effective way of managing LBP. New developments concerning environmental lead (7439921) exposure were summarized. Recent national surveys conducted in the late 1970s and 1980s have shown that blood lead concentrations in the general US population have decreased by more than 75%. This decrease has been attributed to removal of lead from gasoline, drinking water, and consumer items such as soldered cans.
NIOSH-Author; Occupational-medicine; Back-injuries; Age-factors; Bronchial-asthma; Occupational-diseases; Heavy-metals; Lead-poisoning; Occupational-exposure; Blood-samples
Issue of Publication
Journal of the American Medical Association
Page last reviewed: March 11, 2019
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division