Occupational airways diseases from chronic low-level exposures to irritants

Clin Chest Med. 2002 Dec;23(4):727-35, vi. doi: 10.1016/s0272-5231(02)00031-x.


Short-term, high-level exposures to dusts, gases, mists, fumes, and smoke that are irritating to the respiratory tract are capable of inducing asthma, the so-called reactive airways dysfunction syndrome. Such exposures, however, do not occur frequently; chronic or recurrent exposures to lower levels of irritants are much more common. This article reviews the evidence that supports the concept that low-level exposures to respiratory tract irritants can contribute to the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Irritants / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / etiology*


  • Irritants