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12 May 2011

15% of asthma cases are work-related

Occupational allergies account for 15% of adult asthma cases according to a meeting of lung allergy specialists held in Paris on 19 April.

An Agence France Presse story dated 21 April reports the allergists as saying that the longer work-related allergens are inhaled, the worse the asthma gets, often continuing after occupational exposure has ended.
In France, from 1 250 to 5 000 workers every year would stay healthy had they not been exposed to risk products, argues Pierre Frimat, professor at the Lille regional teaching hospital.
Worst-off are bakers, claims Benoît Wallaert, a pneumo-allergist at the Lille teaching hospital. The flour they inhale – along with the additives and contaminants – accounts for 22% of occupational allergens in asthma, followed by the isocyanates used in paints (14%).
Then there are latex gloves for health workers, aldehydes*, disinfectants, alkaline persulfates used in hairdressing, and even to a lesser extent wood dust and animals. Most of these substances also involve exposure to contact sensitizers.
* Most often a liquid organic compound produced by dehydrogenation or oxidation of a primary alcohol used in the production of plastics, dyes, fragrances and food additives.

Sources: AFP, Journal de l’environnement.
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