Isocyanates and work-related asthma: Findings from California, Massachusetts, Michigan, and New Jersey, 1993-2008

Am J Ind Med. 2015 Nov;58(11):1138-49. doi: 10.1002/ajim.22527. Epub 2015 Sep 9.


Background: Isocyanates remain a leading cause of work-related asthma (WRA).

Methods: Two independent data systems were analyzed for the period 1993-2008: (1) State-based WRA case surveillance data on persons with isocyanate-induced WRA from four states, and (2) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) isocyanate air sampling results.

Results: We identified 368 cases of isocyanate-induced WRA from 32 industries and 678 OSHA isocyanate air samples with detectable levels from 31 industries. Seventeen industries were unique to one or the other dataset.

Conclusion: Isocyanate-induced WRA continues to occur in a wide variety of industries. Two data systems uncovered industries with isocyanate exposures and/or illness. Improved control measures and standards, including medical surveillance, are needed. More emphasis is needed on task-specific guidance, spill clean-up procedures, skin and respiratory protection, and targeted medical monitoring to mitigate the hazards of isocyanate use.

Keywords: isocyanates; occupational disease prevention; occupational health surveillance; work-related asthma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / analysis
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / toxicity*
  • Asthma, Occupational / chemically induced
  • Asthma, Occupational / epidemiology*
  • California / epidemiology
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S.
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isocyanates / analysis
  • Isocyanates / toxicity*
  • Male
  • Massachusetts / epidemiology
  • Michigan / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, U.S.
  • New Jersey / epidemiology
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis
  • Population Surveillance
  • United States
  • Young Adult


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Isocyanates