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Asthma: a surprising cause of death for construction workers

When most people think about the potential dangers lurking on construction sites, images of live electrical wires, falling objects and rickety scaffolding are often the types of hazards that pop into their heads.

However, according to a recent report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there may be another very dangerous — and sometimes deadly — problem for construction workers: asthma.

While asthma may not sound as dangerous as a forklift careening out of control, the unfortunate reality is that it can sometimes be just as deadly. In fact, as reported in the CDC study mentioned above, the construction industry has the highest rate of asthma deaths among men in the United States.

Specifically, this report examined the number of asthma-related deaths in 2015, taking into account the age of the victims, the industries in which they worked as well as the potential causes of their asthma, among other variables. The researchers found that 13.2 percent of all male asthma-related deaths occurred among those working in the construction industry, which was more than twice as many as the next highest industry (transportation and warehousing).

Sadly, the report also mentioned that more than half of all construction workers are frequently exposed to various vapors, gases, dust and fumes while at work — meaning their asthma may be work-related. In fact, as the report pointed out, welding fumes and isocyanates such as paint, which construction workers frequently encounter, have been linked to work-related asthma.

So, it looks like asthma is simply one more work-related hazard we will have to add to the list for construction workers.

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