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Rev Mal Respir. 2006 Dec;23(6):726-40.

[Epidemiology and etiologic agents of occupational asthma].

[Article in French]

Author information

  • 1Unité de Pathologie Professionnelle, de santé au travail et d'insertion, Hôpital Raymond Poincaré, AP-HP, France.



Occupational asthma is, by definition, a disease that can be prevented through appropriate protective strategies. Epidemiological information is required to guide these interventions, and we here examine epidemiological data on the burden, causes, and risk factors for this condition.


Population-based surveys indicate that approximately 15% of adult asthma is attributable to the workplace environment. The most common occupational agents implicated include flour, isocyanates, latex, and persulphate salts. The occupations in which occupational asthma has been most commonly reported are bakers, spray painters, health-care workers, hairdressers, and cleaners. The level of exposure to sensitizing agents seems to be the most relevant risk factor. Atopy is a significant risk factor only for the development of sensitization to high molecular weight agents. The role of other individual determinants, such as genetic factors, has been less consistently established. Occupational asthma is associated with a substantial adverse impact on the employment and financial status of affected workers.


Methodological improvements are required in order to distinguish more accurately between occupational and work-exacerbated asthma. Further investigations of the effectiveness of primary and secondary preventive interventions are also needed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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