Work-related Asthma

Occupational Exposures

All adults with asthma should be questioned about their occupational history and exposures. New exposures associated with work-related asthma continue to be recognized. If a patient’s exposure does not match one of the categories listed in the table below, do not necessarily disregard the exposure as a possible cause for their symptoms.

Occupational Category Examples of Associated Agents
Animal Health
  • Anesthetic agents
  • Animal proteins (from hair/fur, saliva, urine, and dander)
  • Biocides (gluteraldehydes and chlorhexidine)
  • Cleaning products
  • Drugs (antibiotics)
  • Endotoxin
  • Enzymes
  • Latex
  • Pollen
Cleaning Services
  • Acetic acid
  • Acids
  • Ammonia (ammonium hydroxide)
  • Biocides
  • Bleach (sodium hypochlorite)
  • Chloramines
  • Formaldehyde
  • Glutaraldehyde
  • Quaternary ammonium compounds (e.g., benzalkonium chloride)
  • Spray products
Cosmetology
  • Acrylic monomers
  • Bleaching agents
  • Biocides
  • Formaldehyde
  • Hair dyes
  • Henna
  • Latex
  • Persulfates
Farming and Food Production
  • Cereals and grains
  • Egg protein
  • Endotoxin
  • Enzymes
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Green coffee beans/dust
  • Insects
  • Milk protein
  • Plants
  • Plant products (natural rubber latex)
  • Plant proteins (grain, wheat, coffee beans/dust, tea, flours)
  • Pollen
Healthcare
  • Acrylic monomers
  • Aerosolized medications (e.g., pentamidine, ribavirin)
  • Anesthetic agents
  • Biocides (e.g., gluteraldehydes and chlorhexidine)
  • Cleaning products (e.g., quaternary ammonium compounds)
  • Drugs (antibiotics)
  • Enzymes
  • Latex
  • Metal in dental alloys
  • Orthopedic adhesives (methacrylates)
  • Psyllium
Industrial, Manufacturing, or Construction
  • Acid anhydrides (epoxy resin, dye)
  • Acrylic monomers (adhesives)
  • Aliphatic amines (e.g., ethylenediamines and ethanolamines)
  • Complex platinum salts
  • Diisocyanates (e.g., polyurethane and plastic production, spray painting, foamcoating manufacturing)
  • Enzymes (e.g., amlyases, lipases, proteases)
  • Metal dusts
  • Metal salts
  • Metalworking fluid
  • Western red cedar
  • Wood dusts or barks
Laboratory
  • Animal proteins (from hair/fur, saliva, urine, and dander)
  • Enzymes
  • Fungi
  • Latex
Office and Educational
  • Indoor dampness and mold (indoor environmental quality)
  • Vegetable gums (printer ink)
Page last reviewed: May 24, 2017