Occupational illnesses Workplace exposures Industrial hygiene

Report examines work-related asthma in California

Sacramento, CA – Almost 1 million people in California have work-related asthma, according to a new surveillance report (.pdf file) from the California Department of Public Health. Work-related asthma is defined as being caused or aggravated by workplace exposures.

The report, based on data from 1993 to 2008, states that 40 percent of California adults with asthma – roughly 974,000 people – attribute the condition to their job, yet many cases go undiagnosed.

Asthma rates were found to be highest in the local transit, hospital, zoos and parks, utilities, social services, and wood and lumber product manufacturing industries. The most common triggers include dust, chemicals, smoke, mold and indoor air pollutants.

More than half (56 percent) of people with work-related asthma were unable to perform their job or had to switch to modified work, and one-quarter said they were still exposed to the trigger on the job, according to the report.

To reduce exposure, the report recommends evaluating worksites, increasing surveillance and promoting awareness in the workplace.