In its Irritant-induced Asthma project, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health studied the risk factors for irritant-induced occupational asthma, the best ways for preventing and identifying the illness and surveyed patients’ functional and work ability. The study provides new and internationally significant information as this is the largest occupational asthma dataset to have ever been analysed.
Occupational disease of core industrial sectors
The largest at-risk groups of irritant-induced asthma are employees in the industrial sector along with metal, repair and construction workers. Typical exposure situations include process leaks and the burning or heating of substances, which can happen either over a long period of time or in a sudden accident.
"If an employee breathes in a highly corrosive substance and the concentration is high, the lungs can be damaged in just a few breaths. Even short exposure may cause severe asthma, which will cause symptoms regardless of medical treatment,” says Irmeli Lindström, Chief Medical Officer specialised in pulmonary diseases.
New guidelines for co-operation between workplaces and occupational health care
The Irritant-induced Asthma project provides clear and practical tools for occupational health care and workplaces for identifying, preventing and treating irritant-induced asthma. The project produced three printable operational models.
- What to do when irritant-induced asthma is suspected at the workplace or occupational health care
- How to examine irritant-induced asthma in occupational health care
- What to do in exceptional situations, such as a fire, process leak or chemical accident
“Information is an important way of preventing occupational disease at workplaces, as irritant-induced asthma can be difficult to identify. We drew up clear guidelines that occupational health care and workplaces can use together to identify risks and prevent employees from being affected by irritant-induced asthma,” says Lindström.
Irmeli Lindström, Chief Medical Officer, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, +358 46 851 1898, [email protected]
Katri Suuronen, Senior Specialist, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, +358 40 555 3510, [email protected]
Satu Soini, Chief Medical Officer, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, +358 46 851 5858, [email protected]
- Final Report of the Irritant-induced Asthma project by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health Ärsytyksen aiheuttama astma (julkari.fi)
- Would you like to implement the operational models? Find them on the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health’s Themes page (in Finnish). https://www.ttl.fi/arsytysastma
- You can use the respiratory symptom survey to help verify a suspected case of irritant-induced asthma during a medical examination. The survey includes a section on interpretation (in Finnish). https://www.ttl.fi/teemat/tyoterveys/ammattitaudit/ammattiastma/tunnista-ja-ehkaise-arsytysastmaa-tyoterveyshuollossa#toc--terveystarkastukset-
- See this short video aimed at workplaces on how to identify incidents and how to safely handle hazardous chemicals while working. https://youtu.be/K1_EyRXh6hM
- See this fact sheet aimed at high-risk sectors, produced in co-operation with the Centre for Occupational Safety (in Finnish) https://ttk.fi/julkaisu/nain-torjut-arsyttavien-aineiden-aiheuttamaa-astmaa/