The 3rd May 2022 was World Asthma Day and the HSE took the opportunity to remind employers and employees about the risks of occupational asthma. This blog is to reinforce this message.
Occupational asthma can occur to people who already have asthma and to those who do not. It is under recognised, under reported and can have severe effects on health and employment.
What happens is that people become allergic to substances inhaled at work and develop wheeziness. Over time the allergy becomes more intense and can become so marked as to prevent a person even going near a workplace because of severe wheeze.
There are many substances that are known to have the potential to cause this condition, these include:
Animal substances; hair, fur, saliva, faeces
Chemicals; some paints, isocyanates, adhesives, solder
Enzymes; in biological detergents, flour, conditioner
Metals; chromium, nickel, platinum
Plant substances; rubber latex, flour, cotton, flax, rye, malting barley, hardwood dusts
The important point is for employees and employers to be alert to this possibility. The condition can be difficult to diagnose, and it is wise to involve an occupational health service to give an opinion.