Study Finds: Harmless Office Environment May Lead To Asthma
Asthma is a widespread condition and affects 24 million people in the United States alone. New research data revealed at the virtual ERS International Congress showed that the office environment might contribute significantly. The study revealed several causes, including poor ventilation, cleaning agents, printer toner, and mold in the AC system.
The evidence researchers discovered shows that working from home benefits the workers’ health. Moreover, it also helps companies keep their workers. If a respiratory allergen is present in the workplace, employees might develop occupational asthma. This is a component, such as dust or paint spray, that causes a permanent allergic reaction.
Since people typically consider an office a safe setting, it’s easy to miss the causes of occupational asthma in office employees.
Researchers looked into 47 office workers’ cases who referred to the Birmingham Regional Occupational Lung Disease Service with occupational asthma.
Researchers discovered three different types of factors that can cause this condition in office workers.
First, there are triggers in the office, including:
- floor tile glue
- cleaning chemicals
- printer toner, and
Then there are the triggers from the immediate environment, such as:
- nearby workshops, and
- vehicle fumes
Finally, there are the triggers from the office ventilation system, like:
- mold in ventilation shafts, and
- air conditioning installed wrongly
Researchers also examined if companies made any changes to help their employees with this condition. Moreover, they also examined what those employees did as a result. In the cases where employers failed to make a change, workers were 100 times more likely to quit their job.
During the COVID-19 restrictions, there were fewer new referrals for individuals with this condition, and those who already had occupational asthma saw improvements while working from home.
There are probably more patients with undetected office-related asthma because office environments are typically considered safe compared to other work settings where allergens may be present.
It’s essential to identify and address any potential workplace triggers for office workers with asthma who experience an inexplicable progression in their symptoms.
It’s also critical to identify the underlying reason for work-related asthma clusters in workplaces, as the causes may be unexpected.
Image by Christin Hume