I was a Chemical Prosess Operator for 18 years, in which on many ocassions was exposed to many spillages

During my 18 years in the chemical industry, I was exposed to many spillages of different types of chemicals. Sometimes the chemicals would have been mixed and so some unknown by-products would be present. The type of chemicals ranged from anhydrides, Aldehydes, Acids and Solvents. There would also be some solid chemicals from which i would be exposed to the dust, the worst being dehydrated lime. I started to suffer with Asthma about 5 years before leaving the company that employed me. I have been left their employment now for over three years but still suffer with Asthma and lots of chest infections. Could that exposure be the cause of my Asthma? I will add that previously I would play football sometimes 4 times a week plus I was a fireman for six years with no signs of Asthma.
Occupational Asthma, Worker, 10/31/2007, 11/1/2007,

There are three possibilities.
1. Acute irritant induced asthma (toxic asthma). In this situation a previously normal worker has a large exposure to an irritant chemical, fume or dust which causes immediate asthma (usually within minutes but always less than 24 hours). The asthma may sometimes recover but may become permanent. Subsequent low dose exposure to the original cause does not cause problems, but asthma may be provoked by things that make most asthmatics worse (cold air, exercise, infection, paint fumes, perfumes etc). Common causes are fires and chlorine, but many chemicals have been implicated. There must be an unusual event such as a fire or major spill.

2. Occupational asthma. In this situation once the asthma has started small exposures which previously caused no problems proke the asthma; sensitisation has occurred. Acid anhydrides are a cause of this. Sensitisation may be more likely after spills and high exposures, but can occur without these. Some improvent shoud occur on leaving work.

3. The asthma was going to start anyway and is unrelated to the work exposures. In this case work exposures should not have made the asthma worse, and the asthma is likely to be unaltered by leaving work.

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