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Millions of U.S. workers have occupational asthma

As many as 2.7 million U.S. workers may have asthma caused or aggravated by workplace conditions, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers examined data on nearly 209,000 adults in 21 states from the 2013 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Asthma Call-back Survey. Of the 108,000 who had worked in the year before the interview, 7.7 percent had asthma. Prevalence of current asthma was highest in health care support jobs (12.4 percent) and the health care and social assistance industry (10.7 percent).

Workplace exposures that contribute to asthma include dust and other allergens, as well as secondhand smoke.

“The findings in this report might assist physicians and state public health officials in identifying workers in industries and occupations with a high current asthma prevalence who should be evaluated for work-related asthma in order to plan and target interventions,” researchers wrote. “Potential work-related asthma exposures can be identified, and effective prevention and education strategies can be implemented.”

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