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What is Work Related Asthma (Two Types)

Work related asthma is a serious breathing disease that is caused by, or made worse by, something in your workplace. There are two types of work-related asthma.

Type 1: Occupational Asthma

  • You did not have asthma prior to joining your workplace.
  • Your asthma is caused by exposures within the workplace.
  • Your symptoms may require you to change jobs.
  • Your asthma symptoms may occur within minutes to hours after exposure.
  • Your asthma Symptoms may improve on your days off.
  • As symptoms may not appear immediately and may improve with days off, it can be difficult to recognize the connection to your work.
Substances that can potentially cause Occupational Asthma to Develop:
  1. Enzymes (e.g., in detergents or laboratories) and moulds
  2. Proteins from animals, plants, foods, insects and fish
  3. Fish and shellfish such as snow crab in fisheries and fish processing industries (particularly in Atlantic Canada).
  4. Wheat or other flour exposures in bakers
  5. Chemicals
  6. Isocyanates in spray paints, some glues, foundry moulds, polyurethane foam used in foam products or insulation. Common jobs are roofers, spray painters in the automobile industry, insulators, and/or polyurethane workers.
  7. Western Red Cedar dust in the logging industry in British Columbia.
  8. Strong scents
  9. Dust

Type 2: Work Exacerbated Asthma

  • Your pre-existing asthma is made worse by something in the workplace.
  • Certain areas and tasks within your workplace trigger your asthma.
  • How you are affected will depend on how well your existing asthma is controlled.
Substances that can potentially cause Work Exacerbated Asthma:
  1. Smoke
  2. Dust
  3. Chemicals
  4. Fumes

Prevention

PREVENTION IS THE MOST IMPORTANT GOAL. Work with your employer.

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Triggers

TRIGGERS ARE THINGS THAT irritate your lungs and make your asthma worse.

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Self-Test

TAKE THE TEST to determine if you could have work-related asthma.

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Resources

RESOURCES ABOUT higher risk occupational fields.

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Find Help

FIRST, SEE YOUR HEALTH-CARE PROVIDER who usually treats your asthma.

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