Year of Publication



Public Health

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

Committee Chair

Wayne Sanderson, PhD, MS

Committee Member

Steven Browning, PhD

Committee Member

James Holsinger, MD



Asthma affects more than 37 million Americans at some point in their lives, making it one of the most common, but costly chronic conditions. There are many known risk factors for asthma, but additional research on environmental and occupational factors is needed to better understand the association between these variables and asthma. This study investigates the associations between occupational exposures and asthma episodes among adults.


Data was obtained from the 2011-2013 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Asthma Call-back Survey for adults. There was a final study population of 11,408 participants after the exclusion criteria were applied. The primary outcome of interest was asthma attack status, which was defined as having an episode of asthma or having an asthma attack in the past 12 months. The primary exposure of interest was occupational exposure, which was determined by using responses for whether or not exposures in the workplace aggravated or caused the participant’s asthma. Covariates used in the study included gender, age, education attainment, employment status, marital status, income, smoking status, air purifier in home, pets in home, mold in home, cockroaches in home, rodents in home, smoking indoors, and doctor diagnosed work asthma. Logistic regressions were used to determine associations between the covariates and asthma attack status.


This study shows that of the 11,408 participants 4,373 (38.33%) individuals reported having an episode or asthma attack in the last 12 months. 4,996 (43.79%) participants reported that their asthma was aggravated by environmental exposures in the workplace. Significant predictors (p


The prevalence of an episode of asthma or asthma attack in the past 12 months is found to be higher among individuals who are exposed to things like chemicals, smoke, dust or mold in the workplace. Additional demographic and environment variables have found significant differences among asthma attack status. Further studies should examine the relationship between more specific occupational exposures and other environmental exposures to have a greater understanding of the association between asthma and these variables.

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