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Occupational asthma "costs £135m"

Workplace asthma might be costing the UK up to £135m a year, according to research.

Breathing problems caused by conditions at work can take anything from weeks, months or years to develop, depending on the substances people are exposed to and their individual health.

Common causes for this kind of asthma in the UK are chemicals called isocyanates, which are used in jobs such as spray painting, foam moulding using adhesives and surface coatings.

Other stimulants that can cause adult-onset asthma include dust from flour and grains, dust from latex rubber, chemicals used in floor cleaners, particles from animals or insects and wood dust in carpentry and joinery.

The research, which has been published in the journal Thorax, estimated that 3,000 cases of occupational asthma are diagnosed every year in Britain.

Experts predicted the impact of asthma on a person's life, including how frequently they would use health services.

The financial impacts were then divided up between the individual, the employer and the state and included NHS and benefit costs, lost income and productivity.

The cost added up to between £72 and £100m over the lifetimes of people with occupational asthma, or £3.4 to £4.8 million a year, and were twice as big for men as women.

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