June 6th, 2016 2:12 pm ET - Paul Henneberger, ScD, and David Weissman, MD
Work-related respiratory diseases include both those that are uniquely caused by work, such as coal workers pneumoconiosis, and those that are caused by both work and non-work factors. Asthma is an example of this second type of condition. Work-related asthma is the most common respiratory disease treated in occupational health clinics in the United States. An estimated 15% of asthma among adults is attributable to work, and 23% of working asthmatics experience exacerbation at work. Extrapolated to all working asthmatics, this could affect 2.25 million Americans between the ages of 15 and 65. The medical costs for work-related asthma were estimated to be $2.29 billion in 2007.1 Total economic impact, including medical and non-medical costs, would be even greater. Other types of respiratory diseases potentially impacted by workplace exposures include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (or COPD), hypersensitivity pneumonitis, silicosis, lung cancer, and bronchiolitis obliterans.
The National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) is a partnership program to stimulate innovative research and improved workplace practices. Unveiled in 1996, NORA has become a research framework for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the nation. Diverse parties collaborate to identify the most critical issues in workplace safety and health. Participation in NORA is broad, including stakeholders from universities, large and small businesses, professional societies, government agencies, and worker organizations.
As we prepare to start the Respiratory Health Program in the third decade of NORA, we want to hear the opinions of all interested individuals and stakeholder groups about what is needed to improve respiratory health in the workplace. We want to learn from the perspectives of many groups, including workers, employers, occupational safety and health professionals, academics and researchers, and others interested in work-related respiratory health issues. Which exposures and associated respiratory diseases should we focus on in creating the NORA research goals? Which methods for assessing exposure and health should be highlighted? What type of scientific approaches need more attention to better understand and prevent occupational respiratory diseases? What type of intervention research is needed?
You are invited to voice your opinions in the comment box below. While we will take comments indefinitely, we would appreciate comments before August 1, 2016, so they can be used to help create a draft plan for Respiratory Health in the third decade of NORA. If you want to communicate with us individually rather than in the blogosphere, please email your comments to: NIOSHbreath@cdc.gov
Please forward this blog to others who may want to contribute.
Thanks for taking part!
Paul Henneberger, ScD, is Senior Science Advisor in the NIOSH Respiratory Health Division.
David Weissman, MD, is Director of the NIOSH Respiratory Health Division.