Occurrence of Occupational Asthma: Results

The percentage of probable and possible occupational asthmatics at hospital A was 25 percent, at hospital В it was 12 percent, and at hospital С it was 22 percent. The overall percentage for all three hospitals was 21.3 percent. After adjusting for a differential response from the three hospitals, the overall percentage of probable and possible occupational asthma was 9.9 percent if one assumed none of the noninterviewed patients had probable or possible occupational asthma. If one assumed the noninterviewed patients had the same prevalence of probable or possible occupational asthma as the interviewed patients, the adjusted prevalence of probable and possible occupational asthma was 20.2 percent.
Table 3 lists the industry, occupation, suspected substances that caused the asthma, and years worked before onset of symptoms for the possible occupational asthma patients. Table 4 compares the industries in which the patients, who were classified as not having occupational asthma, worked with those of the patients classified as having possible occupational asthma.
Of the 94 patients interviewed, 61 percent (57/94) were working at the time their asthma symptoms began. Of those patients not working at the time their symptoms began, 18 percent (17/94) had been diagnosed as having asthma during childhood. The predominant industries in which the patients were working at the time their symptoms began included health services, manufacturing of transportation equipment, and public administration. The industry manufacturing of transportation equipment employed the most patients who met the criteria for having probable and possible occupational asthma (45 percent). The distribution of industries was similar between the group of patients classified as having probable or possible occupational asthma and the group of patients who met the criteria for not having occupational asthma except there were more patients with probable or possible occupational asthma who worked in the manufacture of transportation equipment.
The majority (78 of 94, 83 percent) of patients who were interviewed reported being started on a regimen of medication for their asthma at the time of diagnosis (Table 5). Twenty-four of 94 of the patients (25.5 percent) believed that their asthma was caused by bad working conditions such as smoke or chemicals. Fifty-five percent (11/20) of the patients who were classified as having probable or possible occupational asthma and 17.6 percent (13/74) of those who were classified as not having occupational asthma believed their asthma was caused by bad working conditions. Three of 24 (12.5 percent) patients stated that they were still exposed to the substance they believed was causing their asthma. There was no significant difference in the history of tobacco use between the patients with probable or possible occupational asthma and those classified as not having occupational asthma (75 percent, 15 of 20, vs 68.9 percent, 51 of 74, respectively; p=.488).

Table 3—Summary of the Industries, Occupations, Exposures, and Yean Worked Before Onset of Symptoms for 17 Patients With Possible Occupational Asthma

Industry Occupation Substances Patient Believed Caused Their Asthma Years Worked Before Wheezing, Chest Tightness, or Shortness of Breath Developed
Hospital Nurses aide Industrial cleaners 4
Nursing home Nurses aide Industrial cleaners 5
Manufacture of automobile parts Metal finisher Paints, fiberglass 8
Automobile parts testing Office manager Dyes, penetrants, exhaust fumes 6
Manufacture of automobile parts Grinder Smoke, dust 7
Manufacture of automobile parts Wfelder Smoke, unknown chemical in which parts were dipped 0.5
Manufacture of automobile parts Welder Unknown 17
Nfocatkmal schools Electronics teacher Unknown 17
Cosmetology Cosmetologist Curl relaxants 3
Manufacture of automobile parts Supervisor of sheet metal parts production Oils, lubricants, welding smoke, exhaust fumes 15
Hotel Clothes presser Laundry detergent 2
Physicians office Office manager Exhaust fumes 3
Manufacture of automobile parts Sewing machine operator Dust, pollen, snow 5
Hospital Office worker Unknown 30
Manufacture of automobile parts Press operator Dust 2
Mens and boys’ clothing and accessory stores Seamstress Unknown 7
Manufacture of automobile parts Grinder Unknown 6

Table 4—Industry In Which Patients With Occupational and Nonoccupational Asthma Were Working at the Time of Onset of Their Asthma

SICCodes Industry Patients With Nonoccupational Asthma, No. (%)* Patients With Occupational Asthma, No. (%)
15 Construction 1 (2.7)
23,56 Manufacture and retail sale of apparel 2 (5.4) 1 (5.0)
27 Printing, publishing 1 (2.7)
36,37 Manufacture of automobile parts 4 (10.8) 9 (45.0)
39,76 Miscellaneous manufacturing industries 2 (5.4)
47 Transportation services 1 (2.7)
48 Communications 2 (5.4)
54 Food stores 1 (2.7)
58,70 Restaurants, hotels 2 (5.4) 1 (5.0)
72,73 Personal and business services 2 (5.4) 1 (5.0)
75 Automobile repair 1 (2.7)
80 Health services 10 (27.0) 4 (20.0)
82 Education 3 (8.1) 1 (5.0)
88 Private households 1 (2.7)
92, 94, 95, 07 Public administration 4 (10.8)
Total 37f 20 (100)

Table 5—Characteristics of Patients With Probable and Possible Occupational Asthma in Comparison to the Patients With Nonoccupational Asthma

Probable or Possible Occupational Asthma NonoccupationalAsthma PValue
Age, yr 44 44 NS
Gender, No. (%) NS
Women 12 (60) 62 (83.8)
Men 8(40) 12 (16.2)
Started on regimen of asthma medication at time of diagnosis,No. (%) 16 (80) 62 (83.8) NS
Believed asthma caused by work, No. (%) 11 (55) 13 (17.6) 0.029
History of cigarette smoking, No. (%) 15 (75) 51 (68.9) NS
Currently smoking cigarettes, No. (%) 5 (25) 17 (23) NS
History of bronchitis, No. (%) 10 (50) 40 (54.1) NS
History of emphysema, No. (%) 3 (15) 4 (5.4) NS
Family history of asthma or skin allergies, No. (%) 13 (65) 47 (63.5) NS
Personal history of allergies, No. (%) 10 (50) 39 (52.7) NS
Age at diagnosis, yr 32.5 25.7 NS
This entry was posted in Asthma and tagged bronchitis, cigarette, emphysema, occupational asthma.