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Work-Related Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome Cases from Surveillance in Selected US States

Henneberger, Paul K. MPH, ScD; Derk, Susan J. MA; Davis, Letitia ScD; Tumpowsky, Catharine MPH; Reilly, Mary Jo MS; Rosenman, Kenneth D. MD; Schill, Donald P. MS; Valiante, David MS, CIH; Flattery, Jennifer MPH; Harrison, Robert MD, MPH; Reinisch, Florence MPH; Filios, Margaret S. RN, ScM; Tift, Brian

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: April 2003 - Volume 45 - Issue 4 - p 360-368
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000063620.37065.6f
ORIGINAL ARTICLES: CME Article #1
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CME
Learning Objectives 
  • Distinguish between reactive airways dysfunction syndrome (RADS) and other cases of work-related asthma (WRA) associated with a known asthma-inducing agent.
  • Contrast the clinical features, severity, and course of RADS with those of other WRA related to an identified asthma inducer.
  • Identify differences in outcome and disposition between RADS and other WRA.

Distinguish between reactive airways dysfunction syndrome (RADS) and other cases of work-related asthma (WRA) associated with a known asthma-inducing agent.Contrast the clinical features, severity, and course of RADS with those of other WRA related to an identified asthma inducer.Identify differences in outcome and disposition between RADS and other WRA. The objective was to elaborate the descriptive epidemiology of work-related cases of reactive airways dysfunction syndrome (RADS). Cases of work-related asthma (WRA) were identified in four states in the United States during 1993–1995 as part of the Sentinel Event Notification Systems for Occupational Risks (SENSOR). Information gathered by follow-back interview was used to describe 123 work-related RADS cases and to compare them to 301 other WRA cases whose onset of disease was associated with a known asthma inducer. RADS represented 14% of all new-onset WRA cases identified by the state SENSOR surveillance systems. RADS cases had significant adverse medical and occupational outcomes identified by follow-back interview. In particular, 89% still had breathing problems, 78% had ever sought emergency care and 39% had ever been hospitalized for work-related breathing problems, 54% had applied for worker compensation benefits, and 41% had left the company where they experienced onset of asthma. These values equaled or exceeded the comparable figures for those WRA cases whose onset was attributed to a known inducer. Work-related RADS represents a minority of all WRA cases, but the adverse impact of this condition appears to equal that of other WRA cases.

From the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morgantown, WV (Dr Henneberger, Ms Derk, Ms Filios, Mr Tift); Massachusetts Department of Public Health (Dr Davis, Ms Tumpowsky); Michigan State University (Ms Reilly, Dr Rosenman); New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (Mr Schill, Mr Valiante); and California Department of Health Services (Ms Flattery, Dr Harrison, Ms Reinisch).

Address correspondence to: Paul K. Henneberger, MPH, ScD, Epidemiology Team Leader, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1095 Willowdale Road M/S H-2800, Morgantown, WV 26505; E-mail: pkh0@cdc.gov.

Paul Henneberger has no commercial interest related to this article.

This article was co-written by an officer or employee of the US Government as part of his official duties and is therefore not subject to US copyright.

©2003The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine