Is Your Asthma Work Related?

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Work-Related Asthma and You…

Work-related asthma is more common than you think. Find out if your job could be affecting your asthma, and what you can do to control your asthma at work.

What is work-related asthma?

Asthma is a disease that makes it hard to breathe. Some people get asthma from the air at work. Some people have asthma that gets worse when they are at work. All of these people have work-related asthma.

Need help determining if your asthma is work related?

You or your doctor can contact an Occupational Health Clinic. You can either be seen at one of the clinics or your doctor can call them to consult on your case.

Do you have workplace health and safety questions?

Calls are kept confidential!

Contact the New York State Department of Health Industrial Hygiene Consultation Service at (866) 807-2130. You can also call Occupational Safety and Health Administration at 1.800.321.OSHA (6742).

What causes work-related asthma?

Triggers are things that start asthma attacks. Each person has different triggers. Some workplace triggers include:

  • Chemicals in paints, cleaning products and other things
  • Dust (dander) from animals and insects
  • Dust from wood, latex gloves, flour and poorly cleaned buildings
  • Mold in damp or water-damaged parts of buildings

Who gets work-related asthma?

Anyone can get work-related asthma including:

  • Office workers
  • Construction workers, including welders
  • Hospital workers
  • Janitors and cleaners
  • Farmers, bakers and grain handlers
  • Beauty salon workers
  • Teachers

Talk to your doctor

  • Keep a daily record of your asthma attacks. Tell your doctor when your asthma gets better or worse.
  • Tell your doctor about your current job and about other jobs you have had.

Try to avoid your workplace triggers

Your doctor and employer can help you avoid your workplace triggers. This can include:

  • Wearing a proper face mask
  • Moving to a different work area
  • Changing the air flow in your work area

Anyone can get work-related asthma

If you think you have work-related asthma, you don't have to leave your job. You can help your asthma by identifying and avoiding your workplace asthma triggers.

How can you tell if you have work-related asthma?

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does your asthma get worse soon after starting work?
  2. Did your asthma get worse soon after moving to a different work area?
  3. Did your asthma begin after breathing something irritating at work?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, ask your doctor if you may have work-related asthma. You can print this document, A Guide for You and Your Doctor and bring it into your doctor.

For more information on work-related asthma

Call the New York State Department of Health Bureau of Occupational Health toll-free at (866) 807-2130 or visit us online.

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