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Adult-Onset Asthma and the Workplace

Adult Asthma

Many people, when describing asthma may imagine children carrying inhalers, suffering from wheezing or worse to help alleviate symptoms, but that scenario does not paint a full picture of this chronic inflammatory disease of the airways. Adults are prevalent in developing onset asthma, even if they have never been asthmatic as a child.

Below are answers to some of the most common questions asked about asthma in adulthood.

Can you develop asthma as an adult?

The answer is yes, and it's not as uncommon as you may think. According to the American Lung Association, 1 in 12 adults has asthma.

How can an adult contract asthma?

While the verdict still isn't out on how it develops in all adults, there is conclusive evidence pointing to certain factors. They are exposure to asthmangens, irritants, and allergens.

Asthmnagens are simply substances that cause symptoms of asthma.

Where are areas especially high for triggering asthma?

Occupational exposure is responsible for 1 in 6 cases of adult-onset asthma. The work environment could be any space where the air quality is compromised by ambient particles and/or aerosols.

Essentially, working in an office setting may trigger asthmatic reactions as those working in other facilities, like warehouses, manufacturing plants, processing plants, etc.

Common airborne allergens and asthmangens:

  • Dust
  • Chemicals (cleaning and/or in production)
  • Pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds
  • Smoke from any type of burning (tobacco or non-tobacco related)
  • Animal dander
  • Dust mite feces
  • Cockroach feces
  • Mold spores
  • Odors and fumes
  • Perfumes/ scented products

Onset Asthma in food production workers

Studies have shown that even non-smoking workers in food production, specifically where flavoring chemicals are used, are at an increased risk of occupational asthma and contracting bronchiolitis obliterans. The exposure of diacetyl, acetoin, 2-nonanone, acetaldehyde, and other volatile organic compounds is known to exacerbate asthma symptoms and emphasizes a need for exposure reduction.

I think I may have adult-onset asthma. What should I do?

  • It is important to have your doctor test you for asthma/respiratory disease, as well as identify your asthma triggers.

  • Be aware of the hazards and safe handling procedures for materials on the job.

  • If your workspace is responsible for triggering asthmantic symptoms, you should immediately let your supervisor/management, and HR department know.

  • Recommend an air filtration system/air purifiers in your work area, or close to the areas where your symptoms are triggered, to reduce potential exposure.

Risk reduction with cleaner air quality

QleanAir Scandinavia offers air cleaning solutions for all types of indoor environments: Food production, office spaces, industrial environments, storage facilities, etc.

For more information on how to get your business area's air quality tested or to learn more about our clean air delivery solutions, you can reach out to us here.

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