According to data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 25 million American adults and children have asthma. On average, it means that 1 in 13 people suffer from this challenging lung condition. The condition can strike individuals regardless of age, gender, race or ethnicity. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for exposure to dangerous chemicals in the workplace to ultimately lead to asthma. This specific category is often referred to as occupational asthma.
It has been reported that 10% to 25% of adults with asthma experience the condition as a result of occupational factors. While occupational asthma is often considered a reversible condition, prolonged exposure to irritants could result in permanent damage. Common irritants can include dust, gases, fumes and vapors. In the workplace, these substances can be generated by the following:
- Chemical dusts and vapors: Materials that give off these types of substances can include isocyanates, trimellitic anhydride and phthalic anhydride.
- Animal substances: Workers can be exposed to toxic chemical substances because of animal dander, hair, mites, bacterial dusts, protein dusts and small insects.
- Organic dusts: Employees working at a miller, baker or other food processing plant might be more susceptible to cereals, coffee, flour, grains or tea.
- Metal: Exposure to various metals can lead to occupational asthma. This exposure can be in the form of dust from grinding, fumes from soldering or any other inhalable material.
- Textile dust: Numerous types of manufacturing plants rely on cotton, flax and hemp as crucial materials. Dust from these substances can be inhaled leading to occupational asthma.
Occupational asthma and other conditions such as asbestosis, silicosis and mesothelioma can be devastating to workers in numerous industries. Managers, supervisors and owners must take precautions designed to keep workers safe. Whether it is by using strong building ventilation, personal protective gear or industrial wash facilities to clean contaminated clothing, the company must take steps to keep workers safe.
If you or a loved one suffers from an occupational disease, it is wise to discuss your situation with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.