Nurses and other health care workers are especially vulnerable to occupational asthma, according to data from four states that monitor work-related asthma cases.
During a 5-year period (1993 to 1997), health care workers accounted for 16% of the 1,879 confirmed cases of occupational asthma in California, Massachusetts, Michigan, and New Jersey. Health care workers make up only 8% of the states' work force.
Most of the asthma sufferers were nurses or others employed in hospitals. The most commonly reported asthma triggers were cleaning products, latex, and poor air quality. The researchers call for careful product purchasing and facility maintenance to lessen the risk to employees.