An official American Thoracic Society proceedings: work-related asthma and airway diseases. Presentations and discussion from the Fourth Jack Pepys Workshop on Asthma in the Workplace

Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2013 Aug;10(4):S17-24. doi: 10.1513/AnnalsATS.201305-119ST.


Work-related asthma is a common occupational lung disease. The scope of the Fourth Jack Pepys Workshop that was held in May 2010 went beyond asthma to include discussion of other occupational airway diseases, in particular occupationally related chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and bronchiolitis. Aspects explored included public health considerations, environmental aspects, outcome after diagnosis, prevention and surveillance, and other work-related obstructive airway diseases. Consistent methods are needed to accurately estimate the comparative burden of occupation-related airway diseases among different countries. Challenges to accomplishing this include variability in health care delivery, compensation systems, cultural contexts, and social structures. These factors can affect disease estimates, while heterogeneity in occupations and workplace exposures can affect the underlying true prevalence of morbidity. Consideration of the working environment included discussion of practical methods of limiting exposure to respiratory sensitizers, methods to predict new sensitizers before introduction into workplaces, the role of legislated exposure limits, and models to estimate relative validity of various ameliorative measures when complete avoidance of the sensitizer is not feasible. Other strategies discussed included medical surveillance measures and education, especially for young individuals with asthma and new workers about to enter the workforce. Medical outcomes after development of sensitizer-induced occupational asthma are best following earlier diagnosis and removal from further exposure, but a subset may be able to continue working safely provided that exposure is reduced under close follow-up monitoring. It was recognized that occupationally related COPD is common but underappreciated, deserving further study and prevention efforts.

Publication types

  • Congress
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asthma, Occupational / economics
  • Asthma, Occupational / prevention & control*
  • Asthma, Occupational / therapy
  • Bronchiolitis / economics
  • Bronchiolitis / prevention & control*
  • Bronchiolitis / therapy
  • Humans
  • Occupational Diseases / economics
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Occupational Diseases / therapy
  • Occupational Exposure / economics
  • Occupational Exposure / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / economics
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / prevention & control*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / therapy
  • Societies, Medical
  • United States