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Am J Ind Med. 1998 Dec;34(6):529-46.

Occupational respiratory allergy in bakery workers: a review of the literature.

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1
Department of Environmental & Occupational Health, Agricultural University Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Abstract

Baker's asthma has long been recognized as a serious disease among workers in the bakery industry and the number of cases with baker's asthma is steadily increasing. This paper presents a review of the available literature on baker's allergy with a special focus on the allergens involved, the epidemiologic research and issues on exposure assessment, evidence of exposure-response-relationships, and possible prevention strategies. A large number of potential allergens have been identified and are described here. At present little is known about the incidence of baker's allergy. On the other hand, a large number of cross-sectional studies have been performed, showing that sensitization and work-related symptoms are common among bakery workers. Only atopy and exposure level have consistently been reported as determinants of this occupational disease. Age, gender, and smoking habits do not seem to be associated with sensitization or work-related respiratory symptoms. Recently, immunochemical methods have been developed to measure specific allergens in the bakery industry, which have been used to unravel the role of allergen exposure in the development of baker's asthma. Clear exposure-response-relationships have been found. The implications of these recent findings for prevention strategies and standard setting are discussed.

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