Certain professions far more likely to contract asthma

By Sheryl Kay • Published: April 1st, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

It might begin with a slight shortness of breath or even just a minor cough … but often an asthma attack leaves people feeling suffocated and unable to catch their breath.

Asthma is among the world’s most common diseases, with about 25 million sufferers in America alone. Studies have long indicated the correlation between exposure to certain chemicals and the onset of the disease. Now, evidence shows that asthma is also more likely to occur among workers in professions where contact with these toxic elements is common.

A study just published in The Annals of Occupational Hygiene tracked the health of more than 13,000 adults for a period of 10 years. During that time, 479 of the participants were diagnosed with asthma.

After looking at gender and profession, the researchers found that 7 percent of the women’s cases were correlated to the workplace while that number jumped to 14 percent among men.

Furthermore, the study showed that certain professions were much more likely to lead to asthma, including painting, office cleaning, plumbing and hairstyling. Workers in these industries were much more likely to contract asthma as they were exposed to a variety of poisons in the solutions they handled. Even health care workers and social service providers were singled out due to excessive exposure to detergents and the latex in gloves. People who were exposed to certain epoxies found in glue, varnish and foam plastic were the most likely of all to come down with asthma.

While the researchers did not issue specific warnings for workers to renounce their professions, the hope is that more stringent workplace safety measures will be put in place to limit exposure to dangerous chemicals.

After all, everyone deserves to breathe easy.