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Asthma is a respiratory disease in which the air passages narrow, making it difficult to breathe. People can develop asthma after exposure to certain substances, known as sensitizers. Exposure to sensitizers can also trigger or worsen a person's existing asthma.

When a worker become sensitized to a material, he or she will experience an asthma attack even if only an extremely small amount of the sensitizer is in the air.

The risks

Allergic reactions can result from workplace exposure to common allergens in these areas:

Bakeries Flour dust
Health care Latex
Metalworking Solder fumes
Office work

Dust mites
Dander (from cats and dogs)

Outdoor work Wood dust
Painting, insulating, and industrial coating Isocyanates
Pest control

Dust mites

Working with wood and wood products
Wood dust
Western Red Cedar dust