Addressing Environmental Asthma Triggers in the Workplace
If you have allergic asthma and work in an office, you may have noticed that your symptoms tend to flare up while you're at work. This can be attributed to the presence of environmental asthma triggers in the workplace. Understanding and managing these triggers is crucial for maintaining good respiratory health and reducing the impact of allergy-induced asthma on your daily life. In this guide, we will explore various strategies and tips to help you breathe easy at work by addressing and minimizing environmental asthma triggers.
While professional cleaning services often manage common areas like the breakroom, bathroom areas, carpets, and windows, there can often be allergens and irritants left behind that wreak havoc on sensitive respiratory systems.
Related: What is Allergy-Induced Asthma?
Allergy Management in the Workplace
According to the American Lung Association, work-related asthma is one of the most frequently reported occupational lung diseases. It can occur when certain allergens or irritants in the work environment trigger asthma symptoms or even cause asthma to develop for the first time. Here are some essential statistics to consider:
- Approximately 1 in 12 people has asthma, and the numbers are increasing every year.
- Around 11 million workers are exposed to at least one known asthmagen in their workplace.
- 1 in 6 adult-onset asthma cases is caused by occupational exposures.
- Over 20% of working adults with asthma find that their symptoms worsen due to workplace exposures.
Common Asthma Triggers in the Workplace
Both indoor and outdoor work environments can expose you to various irritants and allergens that may differ from those found in your home. Some common asthma triggers in the workplace include:
- Chemical fumes (particularly from cleaning chemicals)
- Secondhand smoke
- Vehicle exhaust
- Industrial or wood dust
- Ozone and particulate matter air pollution
What Causes Dust Buildup in the Office?
Dust in the office is mainly due to fallen skin cells and hair particles from the people working there, but outside forces can be brought in through open windows, items brought into the office, and dust that clings onto people’s clothes and shoes. Even with the most airtight spaces, dust will find a way to get in. We don’t usually notice dust when it comes into our spaces, because they’re pretty much invisible to the naked eye. We notice them when a lot of particles form a dust layer on our surfaces, causing the dusty, powdery feeling we get when our hand swipes against a surface.
Your Allergen-Combatting Kit for the Workplace
To combat environmental asthma triggers in the workplace, it's important to be prepared with the right tools and products. Consider assembling an allergen-combatting kit that includes the following:
- The Ecology Works Anti-Allergen Solution: Effectively neutralizes allergens and reduce the presence of pet dander and allergens from dust mites.
- DustmiteX: Easy-to-apply dust mite control for bedding and fabrics.
- Microfiber cloths for cleaning: Microfiber cloths are excellent for trapping dust and allergens without spreading them around.
- HEPA air purifier: An air purifier equipped with a HEPA filter can help remove airborne allergens and improve the overall air quality in your workspace.
Preventing Asthma Symptoms at Work – Identifying and Minimizing Triggers
To prevent asthma symptoms at work, it's crucial to minimize the sources of indoor air pollution. Here are some key steps to take:
- Identify the sources of indoor air problems, such as dust, chemicals, or mold.
- Remove or reduce these sources whenever possible.
- Ensure proper ventilation in the workplace, and make sure airflow is not obstructed.
Identifying Workplace Exposures
To effectively manage your asthma, it's important to identify the specific triggers you're being exposed to at home and work. While some workplaces are commonly associated with exposure to asthma triggers, such as industrial environments, it's equally important to consider exposures in indoor office spaces. Improperly maintained office buildings can pose a threat to lung health.
Is Your Allergy-Induced Asthma Worse at Work?
Allergy-induced asthma, also known as allergic asthma, is a type of asthma triggered by specific allergens. Identifying the allergens that worsen your asthma at work is essential for effective management. Several indoor environmental triggers commonly found in workplaces can exacerbate asthma symptoms. These triggers include:
Dust mites are microscopic insects that thrive in warm and humid environments. To reduce exposure to dust mites:
- Maintain indoor humidity between 30 to 50%
- Dust surfaces (use a cloth dampened with Anti-Allergen Solution)
- Vacuum at least twice a week, using a vacuum with a HEPA filter. For the busy business owner or entrepreneur, equipment like a smart vacuum cleaner can help with general upkeep of your workspace when run daily.
- Apply DustmiteX to soft surfaces like office chairs and upholstery to neutralize allergens from dust mites, a major asthma trigger.
Cockroach allergens can trigger asthma symptoms in sensitive individuals. To minimize exposure at home and the office:
- Take out the trash daily.
- Keep food in sealed containers.
- Clean up spills and crumbs promptly.
- Eliminate standing water in dish racks, sinks, and plant saucers.
- Use Vital Oxide to clean and disinfect any areas where cockroaches may have been present. Vital Oxide removes dirt, dust, and common allergens from cockroach matter.
Mold and Mildew
Mold and mildew can flourish in damp environments and cause respiratory problems.You can help prevent mold exposure in the workplace by:
- Limiting the number of plants in your work area, as mold tends to grow in soil.
- Reporting any mold problems to management promptly for remediation.
Strong odors, including those from fragranced cleaning products, can trigger asthma symptoms. Take the following measures:
- Use unscented products whenever possible.
- Ask colleagues not to use scented products around you.
By understanding and addressing environmental asthma triggers in the workplace, you can significantly reduce the impact of asthma on your work life. Implement the tips and strategies discussed in this guide to create a healthier, more asthma-friendly work environment. Remember to consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice and management of your asthma symptoms. Breathe easy and stay healthy at work!
Need help with using The Ecology Works products for indoor environmental allergen control? Don't hesitate to get in touch with us! Contact us now!