According to the American Thoracic Society, 15% of asthma in adults is caused or exacerbated by work. An estimated 25,000 adults in Massachusetts have work-related asthma. Since 1993, physicians have been required to report suspected cases of work-related asthma to the Department of Public Health (DPH). In 2003, the Massachusetts public health regulations were expanded to include all health care providers as mandated reporters. Health care providers report patient demographics, employer name, type of industry, occupation, and suspected exposure for each case of work-related asthma. Work-related asthma cases are also identified from hospital records and workers' compensation claims data. OHSP conducts follow-up telephone interviews with cases reported to obtain more information about workplace exposures. Data are used to characterize work-related asthma in the state and to target intervention efforts. The project is supported by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Massachusetts is one of five states nationwide with surveillance for work-related asthma.
This information is provided by the Occupational Health Surveillance Program within the Department of Public Health.