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Working with asthma: What you should know

If you have asthma, exposure at work could be causing your symptoms. Exposure to certain chemicals, irritants, or allergens can cause asthma to develop for the first time in some people.

Whether indoors or outdoors, your work environment may expose you to irritants and allergens different from those you encounter at home. Examples of everyday workplace exposure include chemical fumes, solvents, pests, molds, secondhand smoke, vehicle exhaust, ozone, and particulate matter air pollution.

Unlike at home, you may have less control over your exposure to irritants and allergens at work, which can be harmful if inhaled and cause asthma symptoms.

Here are four steps to take at work to prevent asthma symptoms.

The best way to prevent asthma at work is to reduce indoor and outdoor air pollution sources. Identifying the seeds, removing the authorities, and ensuring the ventilation system is working correctly and the airflow is not blocked are all essential steps in resolving indoor air problems.

Identifying what you are exposed to at home and at work that may be causing your asthma to flare up is one of the most important steps you can take to prevent asthma symptoms. Some occupational exposures have been linked to the development of asthma symptoms. 1You might imagine an industrial workplace or "dirty job" as a place where you might be exposed to things that aggravate your asthma. When you have asthma, exposure to allergens and irritants in indoor office spaces is equally important to consider. If office buildings are not properly maintained, they can threaten lung health.

Learn how to limit your exposure to things that aggravate your asthma or avoid them entirely. The following are workplace asthma triggers:

  • secondhand smoke cleaning chemicals and scented personal care products

  • mold airborne dust gases

  • fumes, and vapors

  • pests (dust mites, cockroaches, mice)

  • stress

Outdoor workers with asthma are also at risk of developing breathing problems due to exposure to outdoor air pollution, mainly if they work on or near highways. The following are common triggers for outdoor workers:

  • outside air (ozone, particle pollution, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides)

  • emissions from diesel vehicles

Begin with a solution of soap and water or vinegar and water. These traditional cleaning products are effective. However, if you find that you need a more powerful cleaning product for the job, such as a disinfectant to kill microorganisms that cause infection, many cleaning chemicals now have environmentally friendly product alternatives.


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