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Work-Related Asthma

What is work-related asthma (WRA)?

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that causes the narrowing of air passages, resulting in difficulty breathing. Work-related asthma occurs when a substance or condition as work causes asthma.

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Prevention is the most important goal. Work with your employer to come up with solutions to help control your asthma. This may involve:

  • Moving to a different area within your workplace
  • Improving ventilation
  • Using personal protective equipment

After speaking with your doctor, take any prescribed medications and actively avoid your asthma triggers.

What you can do

Whether it’s “work-exacerbated asthma” or “occupational asthma”, it is important to get it under control as soon as possible. Asthma control involves:

  • Reducing or eliminating your exposure to the offending agent or trigger
  • The potential for regular use of asthma medications
  • Treating work-related asthma in the same way as any asthma
  • Learning other ways to Manage Your Asthma

For anyone with asthma, it is important to have a written Asthma Action Plan from your doctor or other health-care provider to help you take better control and reduce the chance of asthma attacks. Take the following steps:

  • Where available, express your asthma concerns to your Joint Health and Safety Committee member or Representative
  • Read the Safety Data Sheet about the product and follow the prevention methods recommended
  • Access the various resources available for additional support

Educational Program

Learn about work-related asthma with through our educational program link.

Are you a health-care provider?

Learn more about our Provider Education Program (PEP) which offers work-related asthma workshops and an eModule for successful outcomes.


Resources about higher risk occupational fields

What do you do for a living? Deciding on which career is right for you:

Contact one of the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers listed here for guidance:
For manufacturing, farming and small businesses, visit:
For construction and transportation visit link:
For mining and forestry, visit:
For health care, education and culture, visit:
For a Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) infographic poster visit:

Visit your family physician or nurse practitioner, who can send you for an asthma breathing test (called spirometry) that measures your lung function.

For further reading, the 1998 Canadian Thoracic Society Guidelines for Occupational Asthma are available here.