WEDNESDAY, Sept. 8, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Exposures in the office environment may trigger asthma in some workers, according to a study presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress 2021, held virtually from Sept. 5 to 8.

Christopher Huntley, M.D., from the Birmingham Regional Occupational Lung Disease Service in the United Kingdom, and colleagues used data from the Birmingham NHS Occupational Lung Disease Service to identify 55 office workers with occupational lung disease.

The researchers found that 85.5 percent of office workers with occupational lung disease had occupational asthma. Positive results were seen for three specific inhalation challenges (printer toner, medium-density fiberboard, isocyanates) and one workplace challenge. Sources of exposures included the internal office environment (e.g., toner, floor adhesive, mold, cleaning agent; 50 percent), office ventilation system (e.g., air conditioning mold, incorrect installation of ventilation shafts; 25 percent), and the external environment adjacent to the office (e.g., nearby workshop, paint and vehicle fumes; 20 percent). If no workplace adjustments were made, the odds of an employee leaving their place of work were 100-fold higher.

“For office workers with asthma who experience an unexplained deterioration in their symptoms, this study highlights the importance of identifying and removing any potential occupational triggers,” Arzu Yorgancıoğlu, chair of the European Respiratory Society Advocacy Council and a professor in pulmonology at Celal Bayar University in Manisa, Turkey, said in a statement. “Where we see clusters of work-related asthma in offices it is vital to investigate the underlying cause, as the causes may be surprising.”

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