1/5 of U.S. asthma deaths may be due to workplace exposures
In a startling new report released by the CDC, researchers identified 204–389 deaths among adults that occurred annually between 1999 and 2016 that could be attributable to occupational exposures -- and were therefore potentially preventable.
The fatality figures cited represent an estimated 11-21 percent of all adult asthma deaths.
Female workers in the health care industry and male workers in the construction industry accounted for the highest industry-related numbers of asthma deaths. The proportionate mortality ratios (PMRs) for asthma were significantly elevated among males in the food, beverage, and tobacco products manufacturing, other retail trade, and miscellaneous manufacturing industries; and among females in the social assistance industry and in the community and social services occupations. A higher proportion of females with current asthma and a high frequency of exposures associated with work-related respiratory diseases have been observed in the health care and social assistance industries.
The CDC says the higher rates of asthma mortality among workers in certain industries and occupations highlight the importance of optimal asthma management, and identification and prevention of workplace exposures.
Asthma deaths are preventable with proper asthma management and rapid response to asthma attacks. The annual number of asthma deaths among persons aged 15–64 years has declined significantly from 1999 through 2016, most likely reflecting improvements in asthma management and effectiveness of prevention efforts. Replacing powdered latex gloves with powder-free natural rubber latex or nonlatex gloves, for example, substantially reduced work-related asthma among health care workers.