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Work-Related Asthma

Work-related asthma is now recognized as the most prevalent occupational lung disease. It is a frequently serious, and sometimes fatal, condition characterized by intermittent breathing difficulty, including chest tightness, wheezing, cough, and shortness of breath. Workers at risk are those who are exposed to at least one of the more than 300 chemical and biological agents known to be associated with the development of work-related asthma.  

Work-Related Asthma Home Page New Jersey’s work-related asthma surveillance project, funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), has been in place since 1988. Health care providers are the primary source of work-related asthma reports, but hospital discharge data have also proven to be a useful source. Physicians in New Jersey have been required to report suspected cases of work-related asthma since 1990, in accordance with N.J.A.C. 8:58-1.5, 1.6, 1.7. Reported cases of work-related asthma are followed up by interviewing the reported case, obtaining and reviewing medical records, and investigating the place of employment. Workplace consultations are conducted where warranted; either by sending a letter with a tailored packet of educational materials or by performing an on-site industrial hygiene evaluation.

Surveillance of work-related asthma has also led to hazard surveillance research projects in which a particular agent and/or industry is targeted for study. The NJDOH has conducted studies of glutaraldehyde exposure in health care workers and formaldehyde exposure in embalmers.

For more information and resources on work-related asthma, please visit the
Work-Related Asthma Web Site.

Department of Health

P. O. Box 360, Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
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Last Modified: Monday, 28-Jul-14 09:02:28