Occupational exposures associated with work-related asthma and work-related wheezing among U.S. workers

Ahmed A. Arif, George L. Delclos, Lawrence W. Whitehead, Susan R. Tortolero, Eun S. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Background: National estimates of occupational asthma (OA) in the United States are sparse. Methods: Using data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) 1988-1994, we analyzed associations between occupation and work-related asthma and work-related wheezing among U.S. workers. Results: This study identified several occupations that were at risk of developing work-related asthma and/or wheezing, with cleaners and equipment cleaners showing the highest risks. Other major occupations identified were farm and agriculture; entertainment; protective services; construction; mechanics and repairers; textile; fabricators and assemblers; other transportation and material moving occupations; freight, stock, and material movers; and motor vehicle operators. The population attributable risks for work-related asthma and work-related wheezing were 26% and 27%, respectively. Conclusions: This study adds evidence to the literature that identifies work-related asthma as an important public health problem. Several occupations are targeted for additional evaluation and study. Of particular interest are cleaners, which are being increasingly reported as a risk group for asthma. Future intervention strategies need to be developed for effective control and prevention of asthma in the workplace.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)368-376
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Adult asthma
  • Asthma
  • Epidemiology
  • Occupational asthma
  • Occupations
  • Work-related asthma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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