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Occupational asthma refers to asthma caused by work (which is distinct from asthma exacerbated by work). It has been estimated that the occupational contribution to adult asthma is about 18%, and work-related asthma is the most common chronic occupational lung disease in many industrialized areas, such as Ontario. There have been significant changes in the recognized incidence of occupational asthma over time in Ontario as reflected by workers’ compensation rates. The diagnosis has been reached earlier over time, suggesting better recognition (although recognition may still be suboptimal). However, yearly compensated claims for occupational asthma have fallen. Possible reasons for these changes will be discussed, including possible effects of preventive measures that reduce exposure to known sensitizers, and medical surveillance measures. Medical outcomes are best with early diagnosis and intervention. The diagnostic approach in Ontario differs from Quebec; the two approaches have recently been compared to determine whether the differences affect the time to diagnosis and health care utilization outcomes.
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Presenter: Dr. Susan Tarlo
Dr. Susan M. Tarlo is a respiratory physician and a professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto with an academic cross-appointment in the University of Toronto, Dalla Lana School of Public Health. Her main clinical staff appointment is at the University Health Network, Toronto Western Hospital, where she is head of the Occupational Lung Disease Clinic and also has a focus on asthma and allergic respiratory disease. She has a research appointment at the Gage Occupational and Environmental Health Unit in Toronto and the Centre for Research Excellence in Occupational Disease at St Michael’s Hospital where she also has a cross-appointment in occupational medicine and a weekly occupational lung specialty clinic. She also has appointments at the Institute of Medical Sciences (University of Toronto) and Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute (St Michael’s Hospital). Her research interests are mainly in work-related asthma and occupational allergy. She has over 170 peer-reviewed publications, mostly in this area.
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