Some individuals with asthma may at times find a certain work environment can aggravate their respiratory symptoms.
It is estimated that 15-25% of individuals with adult-onset asthma have either Occupstional Asthma (OA) or Work Exaxerbated Asthma (WEA).
OA can be due to sensitizing agents and / or a single exposure to chemical fumes – the latter called RADS (Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome).
Classic OA environments include bodyshop work spray-painting cars with certain types of paints “Isocyanates”, Welders, “Baker’s Asthma” and “Lab Animal Workers’ Asthma”
Good respiratory protection is very important – paper masks are not enough for some types of chemical exposures and the full masks with carbon filters are needed (think “Darth Vader” mask).
Removal from a work environment may be needed if OA or WEA is suspected – and sometimes leads to the individual being placed on modified duties – based on how the patient was hired. Working with the HR team is important to ensure health of the worker – and the company.