Background. Asthma with an occupational etiology contributes to a largely unrecognized burden of preventable disease and disability. In New York State (NYS), estimates of asthma that are associated with work have been reported between 10.6 and 44.5% of all asthma cases. However, studies estimating risk of asthma by industry have not been conducted in NYS. In addition, the quality of life impacts of asthma on NYS workers have not previously been evaluated.
Methods. Odds ratios of asthma by industry as compared with the construction industry and adjusted for age, gender, ethnicity and clinic location were examined through logistic regression in a study of NYS Occupational Health Clinic Network (OHCN) patients from 2000 to 2009 (n=32,902). Four quality of life (QOL) measures were evaluated for asthma patients as compared to medical screening patients in adjusted logistic regression models. QOL was measured by the ability to perform tasks around the house, to provide care for family or children, and to participate in recreational tasks. An additional QOL control measure was used to ascertain if the ability to perform tasks was unaffected.
Results. The risk of asthma was significantly greater than in the construction industry after adjusting for covariates in real estate, retail trade, health care, finance-insurance, other services, manufacturing, and professional services. The real estate industry had the highest estimated risk (OR=3.56, 95% CI 1.54–8.26) followed by retail trade (OR=3.19, 95% CI 1.89–5.40) and health care (OR=2.50, 95% CI 1.62–3.85). After adjusting for covariates, a statistically significant elevated risk of greater than 30 was estimated for each negative QOL by asthma.
Conclusion. This study supported and expanded on previous work indicating that real estate, retail trade, health care, finance-insurance, other services, manufacturing, and professional services industries elevate the risk of asthma and that asthma negatively impacts quality of life. Prevention efforts should focus on industries most consistently associated with asthma in the literature. Associations between work-related exposures and asthma warrant further research.