Occupational Asthma - Causes and Risks

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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