Occupational asthma in Finland

Authors


Dr Helena Keskinen, Institute of Occupational Health, Haartmaninkatu 1, SF-00290 Helsinki 29, Finland.

Summary

In Finland occupational asthma caused by protein allergens and reactive chemicals present in the air of work environments is increasing. This communication describes provocative challenge tests and methods for measuring exposure under simulated work conditions. The importance of lung function measurements during non-exposure and placebo periods is stressed. Especially late reactions are difficult to assess because of the great circadian variation in the lung function parameters of asthmatics. For a positive challenge test, a decrease in peak flow values of at least 15% and a clear deviation from normal circadian variation and placebo periods is required. The allergens of vegetable or animal origin primarily affect patients with an atopic constitution. Chemical allergens seem to attack all exposed workers in the same way. The report lists the occupations with risk for asthma and refers to the population at risk; bakers seem to be the group with the most risk. The importance of early diagnosis, removal of the worker from exposure and improvement of the hygienic aspects of the work environment are stressed.

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