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Workplace asthma costs UK £135m

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Asthma caused by workplace conditions could be costing the UK up to £135m a year, researchers have said.

According to a study published in the journal Thorax, around 3,000 new cases of occupational asthma are diagnosed every year in the UK.

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Occupational asthma can be caused by a variety of substances and can take weeks, months or even years to develop, depending on the health of the individual.

It is most commonly caused in the UK by isocyanates, chemicals which are used in work such as spray painting, foam moulding using adhesives and surface coatings.

Other hazards that can induce asthma include dust from flour and grains, wood dust in carpentry and joinery, soldering fumes, chemicals used in floor cleaners, dust from latex rubber and particles from animals or insects.

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

They then divided up the financial impacts 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 £4.8m a year, and were twice as big for men as women.

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