Asthma Deaths High in Construction, Health Industries

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that 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 PMRs (proportionate mortality ratios) 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.

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.

For example, replacing powdered latex gloves with powder-free natural rubber latex or nonlatex gloves reduced latex allergen exposure and substantially reduced work-related asthma among health care workers.

The report adds that in 2015, an estimated 18.4 million U.S. adults had current asthma and 3,396 adult asthma deaths were reported, and an estimated 11–21 percent of the asthma deaths might be attributable to occupational exposures. During the 18-year period from 1999-2016 for which cause-of-death data and from that estimated occupational percentage was analyzed, 1,573 to 3,002 asthma deaths in males and 2,091 to 3,992 deaths in females might have resulted from occupational exposures.

Differences in asthma mortality by industry and occupation underscore the need for identifying workplace exposures, early diagnosis, and treatment and management of asthma cases, especially among industries and occupations with higher mortality.