Breathing Heavy at Work

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Story Updated: Jan 22, 2013

Breathing not coming so easy this season? Could your work be to blame?

Asthma is one of the most common diseases in the U.S., affecting nearly 19 million American adults. Certain occupational exposures are associated with an increased risk of developing the disease. Although there are well-established recommendations for handling chemicals encountered on the job, as well as a variety of protective equipment available, exposures at work are still being blamed.

In a new study published in The Annals of Occupational Hygiene, researchers in Northern Europe tracked cases of new-onset asthma. Among more than 13,000 (KEY: 13,284) randomly selected adults in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Estonia from 1980 to 2000, 429 were diagnosed with asthma. A significant increase in asthma diagnoses was seen for men and women exposed to certain chemicals.

High risk occupations included spray painters exposed to certain paint chemicals, plumbers who handle adhesives and foam insulation, and cleaners who handle some detergents. Hair stylists who handle chemicals in bleach and nail technicians handling fast-acting glue were also deemed at higher risk.

If you suffer from asthma, or work in one of these so-called higher-risk fields, talk to your doctor about how to best protect yourself.

I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV with the latest breakthroughs from the world of medicine.

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Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, a nonprofit independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association, is part of a family of companies that finances and delivers vital health care services to 1.8 million people across upstate New York. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield provides access to high-quality, affordable health coverage, including valuable health-related resources that our members use every day, such as cost-saving prescription drug discounts and wellness tracking tools in our Step Up program. To learn more, visit www.excellusbcbs.com