Occupational asthma

Ir Med J. 1991 Mar;84(1):22-3.


Occupational asthma is becoming an increasingly common problem worldwide. To date however, the impact of this disorder in Ireland has not been evaluated. In this present study we document 39 cases of occupational asthma presenting to St. Vincent's Hospital between 1978 and 1988 and evaluate the patient characteristics, the occupationals involved, the causative agents and clinical course and outcome. The characteristics of the occupational asthma group were striking when compared to traditional occupational lung diseases, such as the pneumoconioses. These features were (i) the relatively young age--30 patients (77%) developed their disease by the age of 35, (ii) the presence of a substantial group of women--31% of the study group, and (iii) the relatively rapid onset of asthma after taking up employment--56% had asthma within three years of exposure. In contrast the pneumoconioses affect older, preponderantly male workers who manifest clinically symptomatic disease after decades of exposure. Long standing traditional industries were well represented ranging from milling and the bakery trade to textiles and printing. However, there was an even larger contribution from the more modern, high technology sector particularily the chemical, electronic and plastic industries.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma* / diagnosis
  • Asthma* / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Occupational Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Occupational Diseases* / etiology