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Potential occupational and non-occupational risk factors for workplace exacerbation of asthma.

Mehta AJ; Henneberger PK; Derk SJ; Milton DK; Sama SR
Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2003 Apr; 167(7):A503
There is limited information on the risk factors associated with workplace exacerbation of asthma (WEA). This paper utilizes preliminary findings of the baseline phase of the Workplace Exacerbation of Asthma Study. Adults 18-44 years old with asthma were selected from a health maintenance organization population and requested to complete a telephone questionnaire. Adults with WEA were distinguished from other adults with asthma by having both exposure to asthmagens at work and worsening of symptoms or increased use of asthma medications in association with exposures at work. Those with and without WEA were compared on several past and current factors possibly associated with WEA. At the mid-point of data collection, there were 332 employed participants. Twenty-four percent (n=79) of the 332 participants had experienced WEA during the previous 12 months. Individual history of cigarette smoking, allergies and respiratory diseases, parental history of allergies and asthma, past asthma and occupational factors, and exposures in the home environment varied little by WEA status. WEA was associated with a history of a high-level exposure incident (HEI) to gases, smoke, or fumes resulting from a large one-time spill, accident, or fire. Most of the HEI in both groups had occurred > 2 years prior to interview. The odds ratio for WEA given an HEI was 3.1 (95%CI 1.8-5.6), from logistic regression controlling for gender and smoking. Few differences existed between adults with and without WEA regarding potential risk factors. However, adults with asthma who had a history of a high-level exposure incident were at increased risk for having work-related exacerbation of symptoms.
Risk-factors; Workplace-monitoring; Questionnaires; Occupational-exposure; Smoking; Allergies; Respiratory-system-disorders; Work-environment; Humans
Publication Date
Document Type
Abstract; Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Email Address
Fiscal Year
Issue of Publication
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Disease and Injury: Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Source Name
American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 2003 International Conference, The American Thoracic Society, Seattle, WA, May 16-21, 2003
Page last reviewed: September 17, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division