Work makes us wheeze

2007

There's alarming news from Spanish researchers this week. A new study shows that asthma is on the rise in Europe.

What does this have to do with the workplace? Everything! This same study shows that 10-25 per cent of new asthma diagnoses in adults are due to impurities in the workplace.

Lest everyone quit their jobs and head for the hills, the article adds that this means that a mere 250 workers per million become asthmatic due to their work conditions. Nevertheless, the percentages do not lie; this is still a significant percentage of new asthma cases.

The regulation-loving folks in Brussels are likely to be interested in these figures – but a little bureaucracy thrown on this problem may do some good in this case. It's safe to guess that the people contracting asthma at work aren't exactly vice-presidents or the sales force in white collar companies. One could even reasonably wonder if the people who are exposed to "agents and irritants" are likely to be immigrants working in unsavory jobs.

Everyone is, or should be, entitled to working conditions that are both safe and clean. Let's hope that the proper authorities will treat this problem as urgently as they do other subjects, such as standardizing the water content of foodstuffs.

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