New York State Medical Treatment Guidelines for Exposure Assessment for asthma in workers compensation patients

The guidelines formulated by the New York State Workers Compensation Board are designed to assist healthcare professionals in conducting exposure assessments for asthma.

Tailored for medical practitioners, these Workers Compensation Board guidelines offer support in determining the appropriate methods for assessing and evaluating the extent of environmental exposures contributing to asthma.

It’s crucial to note that these guidelines do not replace clinical judgment or professional experience. The exposure assessment for asthma should be a collaborative process, involving the patient and their healthcare provider, considering relevant environmental factors and potential triggers.


Information Sources for Work Exposures

To gather information on work exposures, references can be made to Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs), industrial hygiene data, employer records, and details provided by union health and safety personnel. In assessing cases of suspected occupational asthma, having at least one objective source of information is crucial. While MSDSs typically serve as the initial information source, it’s worth noting that sensitizing ingredients in low concentrations might not be listed, necessitating communication with the manufacturer’s technical staff. Supplementary information from published literature can also be beneficial.


Establishing Key Details

Known Exposures

It is essential to identify all known exposures in any environment to chemicals or substances, encompassing gases, fumes, vapors, dusts, and aerosols, especially those recognized or suspected as asthmagens.

Workplace History

Establish a comprehensive workplace history, covering room size, ventilation, current and past usage of personal protective equipment, co-worker reports, exhaust hoods, remodeling activities, recent process changes, and available industrial hygiene reports.

MSDS Review

Review Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) if available, not only for health effects information but also for the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding personal protective equipment used with the materials.


Exposure Assessment Standards and Methods

For evaluating exposures, the widely accepted standards and evaluation methods are those established by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), accessible at


Workplace Risk Assessment

For workplace risk assessment, the NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards offers a concise summary of toxicologic information.


Environmental History

Importance of Evaluating Exposures Outside the Workplace

Assessing and documenting exposures outside the workplace is crucial. Patients should provide information on:

  • Primary place of residence
  • Residence details such as age, location, type, remodeling history, heating, ventilation, flooring, and past water damage.

Hobbies and Potential Exposures

Inquiring about hobbies is essential, as activities like automobile repair, woodworking, photography, ceramics, and gardening can expose individuals to agents that may either cause or exacerbate asthma.




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