Occupational Asthma

Some jobs can actually cause asthma. Asthma caused by dust or fumes at work is called occupational asthma.

All jobs which cause asthma involve some kind of dust, vapour or other fumes, although often the amount you breathe in is so small that people don’t expect any trouble.

The good news is that if your job is the cause of your asthma, then your asthma will disappear when you stop breathing any of the dust or fumes which caused it, provided that you and your doctors have caught and treated it early enough.

The bad news is that the longer you carry on with work which causes asthma, the more likely you are to carry on having permanent asthma even if you stop the work and completely avoid the dust, vapour or fumes.

Sadly, many people carry on working because no-one has noticed the connection with work, or because it seems impossible to leave or change jobs. In such cases, the penalty for your health may be very severe.

However, finding out for sure is vitally important for you. And, it might be vitally important for others as well.

Usually when a job is the reason for someone’s asthma, there are other people with asthma for the same reason at the same workplace and in the same industry and that no-one has noticed the connection in them.

But remember, even if your kind of work has caused asthma in other people, asthma is a common disease and your asthma may just be the same kind which anybody can get. That is, it might not be work related asthma at all. Wrongly blaming your job for your asthma can have very bad effects. Why lose your job if it is harmless and didn’t cause your asthma at all ?

If people think that the work caused asthma, the expense of improving working conditions may mean there will be fewer jobs or in some cases no jobs at all.

Sadly, a diagnosis of occupational asthma seems to turn most employers off hiring you in the future.

Alternatively, they may employ you, but under the legislation compelling them to employ some disabled people, with two bad results. One of these is that if you no longer have asthma you are wrongly labelled as disabled, and the other is that a job is denied to someone for whom this legislation was passed, a genuinely disabled person.

If your asthma always seems to get better at weekends or when you are on holidays, one explanation could be that something at work is causing it. Dusts and fumes in a wide range of occupations, from working with animals to the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, and various other common trades, can cause asthma.

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