Prevention Guidance for Isocyanate-Induced Asthma Using Occupational Surveillance Data
Data from WashingtonState's work-related asthma surveillance system were used to characterize isocyanate-induced asthma cases occurring from 1999 through 2010. Injured worker interviews and medical records were used to describe the industry, job title, work process, workers’ compensation cost, and exposure trends associated with 27 cases of isocyanate-induced asthma. The majority (81%) of cases were classified within the surveillance system as new-onset asthma while 19% were classified as work-aggravated asthma. The workers’ compensation cost for isocyanate-induced asthma cases was $1.7 million; this was 14% of the total claims cost for all claims in the asthma surveillance system. The majority of cases (48%) occurred from paint processes, followed by foam application or foam manufacturing (22%). Nine of the asthma cases associated with spray application occurred during application to large or awkward-shaped objects. Six workers who did not directly handle isocyanates (indirect exposure) developed new-onset asthma. Two cases suggest that skin contact and processes secondary to the isocyanate spray application, such as cleanup, contributed to immune sensitization. Surveillance data provide insight for the prevention of isocyanate-induced respiratory disease. Key observations are made regarding the development of work-related asthma in association with a) paint application on large objects difficult to ventilate, b) indirect exposure to isocyanates, c) exposure during secondary or cleanup processes, and d) reports of dermal exposure.