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Asthma and the workplace: is there a correlation?

On Behalf of | Nov 29, 2021 | Workers' Compensation

Coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath are common asthma indications. Medications can help control this lung disease, though triggers are everywhere – including the workplace.

Exposure to harmful substances on the job can cause asthma or make a pre-existing condition worse. But can employers reduce risk?

Six types of occupational triggers

Materials detrimental to the respiratory system can occur in every industry. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention groups occupational exposure according to fields as follows:

  • Animal care. Naturally, farming or veterinary medicine includes contact with animal proteins like dander, hair and saliva. Workers may also use hazardous cleaning solutions, latex and pest control treatments containing dangerous biocides.
  • Cleaning services. Dangerous chemicals are often used to sanitize surfaces – some of which can present a serious hazard when combined, such as ammonia and bleach. While disinfectants can reduce the spread of disease-causing bacteria, inhalation can affect your airway.
  • Cosmetology. You probably don’t consider the risks associated with a spa day. Still, those behind the chair are in constant contact with latex, antibacterial compounds and carcinogens.
  • Farming and food production. Exposure to dust and insects is inevitable for individuals who work directly with cultivated products. Additional industry irritants come from pollen, shellfish and bacteria.
  • Medicine. Health care facilities try to minimize infection by using cleaning solutions that can be toxic. Carcinogenic gasses and adhesives can affect workers tasked with producing medical devices. Meanwhile, individuals in the dental field might react to metal found in filling compounds.
  • Industrial, manufacturing and construction. Alongside the dangers of equipment with moving parts, workers may suffer from exposure to sawdust, enzymes and chemicals used in production.

The list of common contaminants goes on. While working in a laboratory, symptoms may arise from enzymes, animal proteins, latex and fungi. And mold’s likely adverse health effects remain ever-present.

Occupational asthma

The New York Workers’ Compensation Board has established treatment guidelines for work-related asthma.

Depending on your situation, you may be entitled to receive compensation for medical treatment and time away from work. You shouldn’t have to experience further suffering if your source of income stands in the way of your earning capabilities.