About 15% of adults with asthma have occupational asthma – or work-related asthma. Although estimates vary, it is considered the most common occupational lung disease in the nation. People with work-related asthma may experience common asthma symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. After exposure to harmful substances, symptoms can come about hours, months or even years later. More than 250 substances have been found to cause asthma (new onset asthma) or worsen existing asthma (work aggravated asthma).
There are three basic ways to control work-related asthma:
- Prevent asthma – eliminate or reduce environmental exposures
- Detect asthma early – establish a surveillance system and report symptoms early
- Avoid worsening asthma – use something less harmful, use protective gear or avoid exposure to harmful substances
Work-related asthma toolkit – developed by Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois Asthma Partnership (Under review – will be posted once available)