Occupational exposure to high-molecular-weight allergens is a risk factor for the development and pathogenesis of IgE-mediated respiratory disease. In some occupational environments, workers are at an increased risk of exposure to fungal enzymes used in industrial production. Fungal enzymes have been associated with adverse health effects in the work place, in particular in baking occupations. Exposure-response relationships have been demonstrated, and atopic workers directly handling fungal enzymes are at an increased risk for IgE-mediated disease and occupational asthma. The utilization of new and emerging fungal enzymes in industrial production will present new occupational exposures. The production of antibody-based immunoassays is necessary for the assessment of occupational exposure and the development of threshold limit values. Allergen avoidance strategies including personal protective equipment, engineering controls, protein encapsulation, and reduction of airborne enzyme concentrations are required to mitigate occupational exposure to fungal enzymes.
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