Are you struggling to breathe when you are at work? You might have occupational asthma due to exposure to dust, gases, fumes or other substances that can harm your lungs. If you were an asthma sufferer as a child, it might come back, or already existing asthma may worsen. Smokers and anybody with a family history of this lung disease or any other allergies may also be more susceptible to develop asthma.
If your symptoms appear while you are at work, and ease when you go home or have some time off, it might indicate that your health problem is work-related. Even workers who have never had asthma problems may have allergic reactions to substances at work.
What can trigger occupational asthma?
Many cases of occupational asthma develop over time as the result of allergies to substances in workplaces. An allergic reaction can make your airway muscles tighten and contract, causing wheezing and breathing problems. If you work in any of the following industries, you might be a victim of this disease:
- Chemical and petroleum industries: High concentrations of ammonia, sulfur dioxide, hydrochloric acid and other dangerous substances are prevalent in these industries.
- Washing powder manufacturing: The Bacillus subtilis bacteria produce enzymes that could cause allergic reactions.
- Bakeries: Various enzymes and types of flour often cause asthma in bakers.
- Animal handlers: Fisherman, veterinarians and those who work with animals in laboratories risk exposure to animal proteins, which are allergens.
- Health care workers: Anybody who uses latex gloves can develop occupational asthma from exposure to the powdery substance that coats them.
- Paint, plastic and resin work: Irritants such as small molecules of chemicals can fill the air during activities that involve spray paint, paint hardeners, resins and plastics. The most hazardous ingredient in many substances might be isocyanates, which are chemicals present in the manufacturing of foam, rubber, plastics and in insulation installations.
- Agricultural industry: Aerosols such as insecticides cause the body to react against the allergens by building excessive amounts of natural body chemicals such as acetylcholine or histamine in the lungs, and asthma can be the result.
Although you might find it challenging to prove that your asthma is work-related, you have the right to claim workers' compensation for an occupational disease. Rather than risking a rejected claim, you may be wise to consult with an experienced Minnesota workers' compensation attorney from the onset. The lawyer can make sure the necessary medical reports to substantiate your claim accompany the benefits claims for coverage of medical expenses and lost wages.