Occupational Asthma Reference

Burge S , Moore V, Burge C, Robertson A, Huntley C, Walters G, Occupational asthma in teachers., Occup Med, 2022;72:541-549,https://doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqac087

Keywords: uk, teacher, Oasys, PEF, acrylate, mould, construction dust, cleaning, photocopier, chloramine, MF, wood,

Known Authors

Sherwood Burge, Oasys Sherwood Burge

Vicky Moore, Oasys Vicky Moore

Cedd Burge, Oasys Cedd Burge

Alastair Robertson, Selly Oak Hospital Alastair Robertson

Gareth Walters, Heartlands Gareth Walters

Chris Huntley, University Hospitals Birmingham Chris Huntley

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BACKGROUND: Work-related asthma symptoms are common in teachers and teaching assistants, there are few studies evaluating their causes.

To identify causes of occupational asthma in teachers and teaching assistants referred to the Birmingham Occupational Lung Disease clinic 2000-20 using evaluation of serial Peak Expiratory Flow (PEF) records.

Teachers and teaching assistants with possible occupational asthma were asked to record PEF 2-hourly at home and work for 4 weeks. Their records were evaluated with the Oasys programme. Those with a positive score for any of the three scores (area between curves (ABC), timepoint and Oasys score from discriminant analysis) were included. Repeat records were made as indicated to help identify the cause and the effects of remedial actions.

Thirty-eight teachers or teaching assistants met the inclusion criteria with all three Oasys scores positive in 24, 2/3 scores in nine and 1/3 in five. The building was the likely cause in 17 (in new builds particularly acrylates from carpet adhesives and in old buildings mould and construction dust), bystander exposure to agents in the schools in 12 (cleaning agents, acrylates from photocopiers and chloramines from indoor pools) and materials used in the classroom in 9 (most commonly MDF in design and technology classes). We illustrate how the PEF records helped identify the cause.

Oasys analysis of PEF records is a useful method of evaluating occupational asthma in teachers and identified difficult to confirm causes where successful remediation or redeployment was achieved.

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