Exposure to potential occupational asthmogens: prevalence data from the National Occupational Exposure Survey

Am J Ind Med. 1997 Feb;31(2):195-201. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0274(199702)31:2<195::aid-ajim9>3.0.co;2-z.


Few data are available about the prevalence of occupational exposures to agents which can cause occupational asthma or aggravate preexisting asthma (asthmogens). Using potential occupational exposure data from the National Occupational Exposure Survey (NOES) of 1980-1983, we investigated the number of asthmogen exposures, asthmogen-exposure(s) per production worker, and unprotected occupational asthmogen exposures in different industries and occupations. Data for the entire United States were used to generate estimates of occupational exposure at two selected state and local levels. It was estimated that 7,864,000 workers in the surveyed industries were potentially exposed to one or more occupational asthmogen(s) in the United States. The average number of observed potential exposures per asthmogen-exposed worker was 4.4, and varied from 11.9, in the Water Transportation industry, to 1.2 in Local and Suburban transportation. The largest number of observed potential exposures was recorded in the Apparel and Other Finished Products (garment) industry. This work and further analyses using this approach are expected to contribute to a better understanding of the epidemiology of occupational asthma, and to serve as a guide to target future occupational asthma surveillance efforts.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / adverse effects
  • Asthma / chemically induced
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Bronchoconstrictor Agents / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Irritants / adverse effects
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Prevalence
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Allergens
  • Bronchoconstrictor Agents
  • Irritants