Happy New Year! For some of you, this is your first quarterly Occupational Lung Disease Bulletin, a project of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's (MDPH) Occupational Health Surveillance Program (OHSP). We have expanded our mailing list and have added occupational health clinics, occupational health nurses, and a selected group of primary care physicians to the list of pulmonologists and allergists already receiving the Bulletin. We hope that you find it informative and that it serves as a reminder to report cases of work-related lung disease. Because this is the first issue for many readers, we have included a general article on work-related asthma, one of the reportable occupational lung diseases in Massachusetts. In addition, we are enclosing with this Bulletin, a list of common asthma causing agents for your reference. Occupational asthma (OA), strictly defined, is asthma caused by exposure to substances in the workplace. Most OA occurs after sensitization. The dose of an agent required for initial sensitization is not known, but once sensitized, a worker can subsequently develop asthma symptoms from smaller doses. These sensitizers include pharmaceuticals, animal dander, proteins, enzymes, and other low and high molecular weight chemicals. Less common, but increasingly important is workplace asthma developing after exposure to irritants such as the vapors and gases of acids and other compounds. There are now over 200 identified causes of occupational asthma. New agents are continually being discovered. Existing asthma which is aggravated, rather than caused, by exposure to irritants at work is very common, although not considered OA per se. However, it is important to note that for purposes of obtaining Workers' Compensation benefits, pre-existing asthma that is aggravated or exacerbated by workplace exposures may be compensable under the Workers' Compensation laws in many states and is reportable in Massachusetts. Clearly, all individuals with asthma need to avoid exposures to such irritants both at work and at home.
Occupational-diseases; Occupational-health; Lung-disease; Work-environment; Occupational-exposure; Respiratory-system-disorders; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Bronchial-asthma; Employee-exposure; Occupational-respiratory-disease; Health-care; Surveillance-programs; Lung-irritants; Case-studies; Medical-services; Emergency-care; Airway-resistance; Sensitization; Pharmaceuticals; Animals; Proteins; Enzymes; Molecular-structure; Chemical-properties; Vapors; Gases; Irritants
Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Occupational Health Surveillance Program, 250 Washington Street, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02108