Many centuries ago, Hippocrates observed a connection between bronchial asthma and employment in certain patients. This was especially evident in fishermen, metal workers, farmhands, horsemen, and tailors . The questions that arise include—are these essentially clients with previous bronchial asthma whose medical condition worsens because of their work environment, or are there irritants in the workplace which in fact cause the problem from the start?
In the United States, approximately 11 million workers encounter chemicals and other substances which lead to hyperreactive airways disease . These patients may have lung conditions which resemble bronchial asthma; however, there are several varieties in how they present [2, 3]. Hence, the physician must differentiate between work-related asthma and other forms of airway hyperresponsiveness or airflow limitation.
Of all new asthma diagnoses in the United States, 15 percent of them probably begin in the workplace .