Occupation-Related Asthma Deaths

Research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows up to 21 percent of asthma-related deaths may be from on-the-job exposures.

CDC researchers analyzed multiple cause-of-death data from the National Vital Statistics System and reviewed information from the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision; the 2000 U.S. Census; and occupation and industry information from 26 states for the years 1999, 2003, 2004, and 2007 to 2012.

The researchers found that:

  • 14,296 men and 19,011 women died from asthma;
  • The industries with the most asthma-related deaths were construction for men and health care for women;
  • The industries with the highest rate of asthma deaths for men were food and beverage and tobacco products manufacturing. For women, they were social assistance and community and social services; and
  • Regardless of occupation, the highest risk groups were people ages 55 to 64, females, non-Hispanic or Latino people, and African-Americans.

Cleaners, disinfectants, antibiotics and natural rubber latex, which can cause asthma, are prevalent in healthcare, while welding fumes and isocyanates – found in paints – pose asthma risks among construction workers, the report states.

Because mortality rates differ by industry and occupation, the researchers point out the need for better understanding and identifying workplace exposures specific to those industries and occupations.

Early diagnosis, treatment, and management of asthma cases in industries and occupations with higher mortality are especially crucial.

The report was published Jan. 19 in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.