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Work-related asthma in Korea - findings from the Korea Work-Related Asthma Surveillance (KOWAS) program, 2004-2009.

Kwon S-C; Song J; Kim Y-K; Calvert GM
Allergy Asthma Immunol Res 2015 Jan; 7(1):51-59
Purpose: To determine the incidence and epidemiological characteristics of work-related asthma in Korea. Methods: During 2004-2009, the Korea Work-Related Asthma Surveillance (KOWAS) program collected data on new cases of work-related asthma from occupational physicians, allergy and chest physicians, regional surveillance systems, and workers' compensation schemes. The incidence was calculated on the basis of industry, occupation, sex, age, and region. In addition, the distribution of causal agents was determined. Results: During the study period, 236 cases of work-related asthma were reported, with 77 cases from more than 1 source. A total of 22.0% (n=52) were reported by occupational physicians, 52.5% (n=124) by allergy and chest physicians, 24.2% (n=57) by regional surveillance systems, and 43.2% (n=102) by workers' compensation schemes. The overall average annual incidence was 3.31 cases/million workers, with a rate of 3.78/million among men and 2.58/million among women. The highest incidence was observed in the 50-59-year age group (7.74/million), in the Gyeonggi/Incheon suburb of Seoul (8.50/million), in the furniture and other instrument manufacturing industries (67.62/million), and among craft and related trades workers (17.75/million). The most common causal agents were isocyanates (46.6%), flour/grain (8.5%), metal (5.9%), reactive dyes (5.1%), and solvents (4.2%). Conclusions: The incidence of work-related asthma in Korea was relatively low, and varied according to industry, occupation, gender, age, and region. Data provided by workers' compensation schemes and physician reports have been useful for determining the incidence and causes of work-related asthma.
Bronchial-asthma; Epidemiology; Workers; Work-environment; Surveillance-programs; Humans; Men; Women; Age-groups; Demographic-characteristics; Statistical-analysis; Surveillance-programs; Exposure-levels; Respiratory-system-disorders; Pulmonary-system; Pulmonary-function; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Statistical-analysis; Epidemiology; Author Keywords: Work-related asthma; incidence; surveillance; industry; occupation
Jaechul Song, Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Hanyang University College of Medicine, 222 Wangsimni-ro, Seongdong-gu, Seoul 133-791, Korea
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Journal Article
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NIOSH Division
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Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
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Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Research
Page last reviewed: May 27, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division