Occupational Asthma - Causes and Risks

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If known, what was the cause of your occupational asthma? Do you work in an environment that puts you at risk?

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What causes occupational asthma?

Occupational asthma is caused by exposure to particular inhaled chemicals in the workplace that cause the airways to become excessively responsive. The likelihood of developing occupational asthma seems to be related to the intensity of the exposure to the causative agent. However, it remains unclear whether the intensity of the exposure, the duration of the exposure, or the combination of the two is most important.

There are numerous agents that can cause occupational asthma. Inhalations of isocyanates, cereal dust, or flour are currently the most common causes of occupational asthma. Agents that cause occupational asthma are usually divided into two different groups: smaller molecules (low molecular weight chemicals), such as isocyanates used in rubber manufacturing, and larger molecules, typically organic substances such as flour. You can find lists of known agents at http://www.hse.gov.uk/asthma/substances.htm.

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Comment from: GelLungs, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: May 15

Don't ever let your employer tell you that it is safe to stand between you and the chemicals that you are working with while (spraying) something is on. For 10 years, my employer forced us to wear N95 masks with 1 strap removed when I sprayed gel coats, unsaturated resin, MMA (methylmalonic acid), methyl, acetone, methacrylate, methyl, ethyl, ketone peroxide, acetone, alpha methyl styrene, hydrogen peroxide, thermal wash, etc. In 2009, I lost all sense of smell and a lot of my nasal tissue inside my sinus. I started coughing up bloody sputum that was tested as pcs of my lower respiratory tract. This went on for 1 and a 1/2 years. When I tried to see a pulmonologist, instead, my employer wanted my own health insurance to pay the medical costs. When I refused to lie, I was fired on the spot. For another 2 years, I coughed blood and lost all nasal function. My throat was tested for corrosive esophagitis. I was prescribed every antibiotic known. Nothing helped. My employer only allowed me 3 months of COBRA and no doctor would see me because they were afraid of not getting paid. All I want to say is 'if you feel a cough, fever, chills, burning in your sinus and into your chest, go to the emergency room. And always wear an approved fitted respirator. Now I am forced to avoid all chemicals, irritants, gases, dusts, and odors. What could have been avoided turned out to be the worst thing possible. To this day, I still can't find a doctor to treat me because it was work related. SSI put me on disability and yet, I still can't see a doctor. What happened to their oath!

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