Job Making You Sick? American Lung Association Shares Tips to Manage Asthma at Work | American Lung Association

Job Making You Sick? American Lung Association Shares Tips to Manage Asthma at Work

(May 5, 2015)

Work-related asthma is one of the most frequently reported occupational lung diseases, accounting for approximately 16 percent of asthma cases among adults in the United States. During May, which is Asthma Awareness Month, the American Lung Association highlights the issue of asthma at work, and ways you can better control your asthma.

"Unlike at home, you may have less control at work over your exposure to certain irritants and allergens that can be harmful if inhaled and can cause asthma symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath," said Norman H. Edelman, M.D., Senior Medical Advisor of the American Lung Association. "In fact, exposure to certain chemicals, irritants or allergens can cause asthma, as well asthma attacks."

According to the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA), approximately 11 million workers, including those who are employed by offices, restaurants and industrial facilities, are exposed to at least one or more substances in their workplace that could cause asthma symptoms, such as industrial or wood dusts, chemical fumes, solvents, pests, molds, secondhand smoke, vehicle exhaust, ozone and particulate matter air pollution.

"Whether you work indoors or outdoors, the work environment can expose you to irritants and allergens that may be different from what you encounter at home," Edelman said. "Even office buildings can be a threat to lung health if not properly designed or maintained."

One in 12 adults in the U.S. has asthma. If your asthma is triggered at work, follow the steps in the Guide to Controlling Asthma at Work to learn how you can keep your asthma in control.

"Prevention is the best medicine. So while controlling your asthma is important, we encourage everyone, including workers, to reduce their exposure to certain irritants and allergens when they can," said Edelman.

The American Lung Association offers the following 4 steps to improve asthma and your overall health:

  1. Avoid Exposure. Learn the tips to discover the things that may be causing breathing problems at work and the steps to avoid or limit your exposure to them.
  2. Get Help. Access information and tools to work with your asthma care provider to be symptom-free.
  3. Report Symptoms. Find out ways to identify unsafe or unhealthy working conditions and steps to report a problem.
  4. Take Care of Your Asthma. Learn some helpful tips to manage your asthma daily.

To build a plan to best manage your asthma, learn more about the American Lung Association's evidence-based Breathe Well, Live Well Asthma Management Program for Adults.

To learn more about asthma, its symptoms and triggers, access the American Lung Association's free online learning module Asthma Basics. Supported by a grant from Teva Pharmaceuticals, Asthma Basics highlights what asthma is, how to respond to a breathing emergency, and videos and resources to create an asthma management action plan. This self-paced tool is ideal for everyone from healthcare professionals and school nurses to parents, those suffering from asthma themselves and even co-workers and friends.

For media interested in speaking with an expert about lung health and asthma, contact the American Lung Association at or 312-801-7628.

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