Occupational Asthma Reference

Tarlo SM, Liss G, Corey P et al, A workers' compensation claim population for occupational asthma. Comparison of subgroups, Chest, 1995;107:634-641,

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Known Authors

Garry Liss, Toronto Garry Liss

Susan Tarlo, Toronto Susan Tarlo

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Abstract

STUDY OBJECTIVE
(1) To compare patients with claims submitted to the Ontario Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) for occupational asthma, in relation to the WCB decisions reached of occupational asthma (OA); aggravation of asthma from irritant exposures (AA); unrelated asthma; no asthma; and (2) to assess determinants of outcome of WCB accepted claims at permanent disability assessments.

DESIGN
A retrospective review of 609 claims submitted to the WCB 1984 to 1988.

RESULTS
The WCB decision reached was OA in 39% of claims, mostly attributed to isocyanates (57% of these). A further 39% were accepted for AA. Exposure to a known sensitizer occurred in 91% with OA and to an irritant in 67% with AA. Forty percent with AA were attributed to a spill or accidental exposure and 68% had preceding asthma. Those with AA were more likely to have clearing of symptoms by the time of their main assessment (43% vs 20% with OA) and were more likely to have remained in the same work (35% vs 20% with OA). Of 200 OA accepted claims reviewed at a mean of 1.9 years later, clearing of asthma occurred in 19% and milder asthma in 47%. Outcome was best with early diagnosis (p < 0.05), and milder impairment of pulmonary function at initial assessment (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS
Patients with asthma induced by a workplace sensitizer demonstrate some differences from those related to workplace irritants. Accurate categorization and early removal of those with OA offers the best prognosis.

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