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Development of an Asthma-Specific Job Exposure Matrix for Use in the United States.

Journal article
Authors Paul K Henneberger
Laura M Kurth
Brent Doney
Xiaoming Liang
Eva Andersson
Published in Annals of work exposures and health
Volume 64
Issue 1
Pages 82-95
ISSN 2398-7316
Publication year 2020
Published at Institute of Medicine, School of Public Health and Community Medicine
Pages 82-95
Language en
Subject categories Epidemiology, Occupational medicine


Existing asthma-specific job-exposure matrices (JEMs) do not necessarily reflect current working conditions in the USA and do not directly function with occupational coding systems commonly used in the USA. We initiated a project to modify an existing JEM to address these limitations, and to apply the new JEM to the entire US employed population to estimate quantitatively the extent of probable work-related asthma exposures nationwide.We started with an asthma-specific JEM that was developed for northern Europe (the N-JEM) and modified it to function with the 2010 US Standard Occupational Classification (SOC-2010) codes and to reflect working conditions in the USA during the post-2000 period. This involved cross walking from the 1988 International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO-88) codes used in the N-JEM to the SOC-2010 codes, transferring the N-JEM exposure assignments to the SOC-2010 codes, and modifying those assignments to reflect working conditions in the USA. The new US asthma JEM (USA-JEM) assigns exposures to 19 agents organized into five categories. The USA-JEM and N-JEM were applied to the same sample of working adults with asthma to compare how they performed, and the USA-JEM was also applied to the entire 2015 US working population to estimate the extent of occupational asthma exposures nationally.The USA-JEM assigns at least one asthma-related probable exposure to 47.5% and at least one possible exposure to 14.9% of the 840 SOC-2010 detailed occupations, and 9.0% of the occupations have both probable exposure to at least one agent and possible exposure to at least one other agent. The USA-JEM has greater sensitivity for cleaning products, highly reactive disinfectants and sterilants, and irritant peak exposures than the N-JEM. When applied to the entire 2015 US working population, the USA-JEM determined that 42.6% of workers had probable exposure to at least one type of occupational asthma agent.A new asthma-specific JEM for application in the USA was developed. Additional work is needed to compare its performance to similar JEMs and, if possible, to exposure assessments generated on a case-by-case basis.

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