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Understanding work-related asthma

Many people in New Jersey have jobs in which they are exposed to a variety of substances that may be harmful to their health. Employers are supposed to follow standards designed to avoid or minimize unhealthy exposure to keep workers safe yet this may not always happen. One condition that is of concern is work-related asthma. You may develop this illness due to exposure at work. Even if you had asthma before beginning a job, you might have work-related asthma if your symptoms worsen while at work.

According to the New Jersey Work-Related Asthma Surveillance, more than 650 people have contracted work-related asthma in the state since 1993. More than half of those people never had asthma previously. In addition, more than half of the people with work-related asthma were in their 40s or younger. The New Jersey Adult Asthma Call-Back Survey estimated the real number of work-related cases to be above 54,000. This disparity is concerning indeed.

Signs of work-related asthma that you should watch for include difficulty breathing, wheezing and coughing, challenges breathing, and a tight feeling in the chest. These symptoms may be less apparent when you are not at work and not exposed to the substance or environment that caused or exacerbated your condition.

If you would like to learn more about work-related asthma or other types of medical conditions that a person might develop due to their job environments, please feel free to visit the help for workers with workplace illnesses page of our New Jersey workers’ compensation website.