What kinds of jobs might expose me to substances that cause occupational asthma?

  • If you are a spray painter, mechanic, work in a car assembly plant or plastics works, you could be exposed to isocyanates.
  • If you work in a bakery or food processing plant, you could be exposed to flour dust and enzymes.
  • If you work on a farm, you could be exposed to grain dust.
  • If you are a nurse, radiographer or darkroom technician, you could be exposed to glutaraldehyde.
  • If you are a woodworker, you could be exposed to wood dust.
  • If you are a nurse, doctor, dentist or work in a laboratory, you could be exposed to latex (in gloves).
  • If you work in the electronics or assembly industry, you could be exposed to solder fume.
  • If you work with animals you could be exposed to dust containing proteins (e.g. in fur, feathers, urine and saliva).
  • If you work in metal or electrical processing, the chemical industry, construction or mining, you could be exposed to resins and glues.
  • If you work in the engineering industry you could be exposed to the mist or vapour generated by metalworking fluids during machining and shaping operations.

All these exposures can cause occupational asthma.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), there has been an overall decrease in occupational asthma. However, new cases still present themselves, particularly in jobs where there is exposure to isocyanates in spray paint or to flour dust. The HSE found that, for the period 2013-15, 'vehicle paint technicians’, 'bakers and flour confectioners' and ‘metal making and treating process operatives’ were the occupations with the highest rates of new asthma cases per year.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.