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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 workers become sensitized to a material, they can experience an asthma attack even if only an extremely small amount of the sensitizer is in the air.

The risks

Workplace exposure to sensitizers such as the following can cause or trigger asthma:

Food manufacturing Flour dust
Food additives (e.g., sulfites)
Health care Latex
Metalworking Metalworking fluids
Solder fumes
Welding gases & fumes
Office work Animal dander
Dust mites
Perfumes & scented products
Outdoor work Pesticides & fumigants
Wildfire smoke
Wood dust
Painting, insulating, and industrial coating Isocyanates
Paints & coatings
Pest control

Dust mites

Working with wood and wood products Western red cedar dust
Wood dust