Work-Related Asthma

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Industries and Asthma-Causing Agents

Listed below are industries where work-related asthma has been identified, and the asthmagens (asthma-causing agents) associated with each. The list includes agents that are sensitizers known to cause allergic asthma, as well as irritants known to be responsible for inducing reactive airways dysfunction syndrome (RADS).

Additional information on industries and occupations, and associated asthmagens can be found through sources listed below the table.



Adhesives industry

acid anhydrides, aliphatic amines, polycyclic compounds, colophony, diisocyanates, methyl methacrylate, cyanoacrylates


insect proteins, pollens, aromatic herbs, livestock, organophosphorous insecticides, soya, chloramides, sulfones, mites

Aircraft filter manufacturing


Aluminum cable soldering


Aluminum industry

aluminium salts, fluorides

Animal handling and processing

animal urine/dander, feathers, avian proteins, penicillins, cephalosporins, cereal seeds, macrolids, oilseed

Artificial fingernail application

methyl methacrylate, cyanoacrylates

Autobody repair

diisocyanates, acrylates, styrene

Automobile painting



enzymes, flour/grain dust, grain mites, insect proteins, cereal seeds, powdered chicken egg

Bath enameling

acid fumes

Boat manufacturing

styrene, diisocyanates, wood dust

Boiler/gas turbine cleaning



hops, chloramine-T

Button manufacturing

nacre (mother of pearl)

Candy manufacturing

vegetable gums


wood dust, formaldehyde, diisocyanates, epoxy resins

Cement manufacturing

potassium dichromate

Ceramic industry

chromium salts, nickel salts

Chemical industry

acid anhydrides, formaldehyde, diisocyanates, methyl methacrylate, cyanoacrylates, sulphites, persulphates, piperazine, platinum salts, quaternary ammonium compounds, coloring reagents, n-methylmorpholine, isothiazolinones

Chrome plating

sodium bichromate, chromic acid, potassium chromate

Coffee processing

green coffee beans

Condom manufacturing

latex, lycopodium powder


garlic dust, spices, aromatic herbs, papain

Cosmetics manufacturing

aliphatic amines, polycyclic compounds, cochineal dust, carmine red, enzymes, formaldehyde, vegetable gums, lycopodium powder, vanillin, quaternary ammonium compounds

Custodial services

cleaning agents, latex, mold, dust, bird/bat droppings, quaternary ammonium compounds

Dairy industry

animal urine/dander, lactoserum, casein, enzymes


latex, methyl methacrylate, cyanoacrylates, epoxy, diisocyanates, formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, quarternary ammonium compounds

Detergent manufacturing

subtilsins (Bacillus subtilis), esperase, enzymes

Diamond industry

metal carbides, cobalt, nickel

Dye manufacturing and dyeing

levafix brilliant yellow, drimarene brilliant yellow and blue, cibachrome brilliant scarlet, aromatic amines and their derivatives, acid anhydrides, cochineal, carmine red, coloring reagents, sulphites, persulphates


solder flux fume, colophony, aliphatic amines, polycyclic compounds, acid anhydrides, zinc chloride, ammonium chloride


insect proteins

Enzyme manufacturing

fungal alpha-amylase, enzymes

Epoxy resin manufacturing

acid anhydrides

Explosives manufacturing

vegetable gums, tetrazene, freon, lycopodium powder


combustion products of plastics

Floral industry

pollens, house plants, dried flowers

Food industry

garlic dust, spices, aromatic herbs, insect proteins, arthropods, shellfish, cochineal, carmine red, enzymes, vegetable gums, oil seeds, dust mites, maiko dust, seafood, powdered chicken egg, sulphites, persulphates, soya, vanillin, tea dust, casein, flours, papain, castor beans, herbal tea, chicory, vegetable oil mist

Food packaging

combustion products of polyvinyl chloride




formaldehyde, derivatives of furan, diisocyanates

Fur dyeing



zinc fume

Grain handling and processing

grain dust, grain mites, molds

Gum manufacturing

vegetable gums


henna, sulphites, persulphates, ethanolamine, formaldehyde, sericin

Health care

glutaraldehyde, latex, formaldehyde, methyl methacrylate, cyanoacrylates, quaternary ammonium compounds, methyldopa, penicillins, psyllium, hexachlorophene, chlorhexidine

Insect breeding

insect proteins, arthropods

Jewelry polishing

cuttlefish bone dust, ivory dust


enzymes, sulphites, persulphates

Machine shop

tungsten carbide, cobalt, nickel, oil mist, coolants, ethanolamines

Meat wrapping

polyvinyl chloride fume


aliphatic amines, polycyclic compounds, metal carbides, cobalt, nickel, derivatives of furan, diisocyanates, chromium salts, nickel salts, platinum salts, palladium salts, acid fumes, aluminum salts, fluorides


bioaerosols, styrene, polyester resins

Mortuary science

formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde

Mushroom cultivation and processing

mushroom spores

Nickel plating

nickel sulphate

Office work

bioaerosols, cleaning agents

Oyster farming


Paint spraying

dimethylethanolamine, diisocyanates, zinc chromate

Paper/pulp manufacturing

wood dust, formaldehyde, sulphites, persulphates, acid fumes, quaternary ammonium compounds, proteolytic enzymes, chlorine, diazonium salts

Pea processing

mexican bean weevils

Pharmaceutical industry

aliphatic amines, polycyclic compounds, aromatic amines and derivatives, acid anhydrides, penicillins, cephalosporins, cochineal dust, carmine red, enzymes, vegetable gums, lycopodium powder, macrolids, sulphites, persulphates, volatile acid chlorides, piperazine, psyllium, chloramides, sulfones, tetracyclines, cynorohodon, hydralazine, rose hips, trypsin, bromelin, papain, pepsin, ipecacuanha dust, morphone, pancreatin, isoniazid, spiramycin, cimetidine, acetic acid, phenylglycine


gentian powder, flaviastase

Phenolic resin manufacturing


Photographic processing

aliphatic amines, polycyclic compounds, coloring reagents, chromium salts, glutaraldehyde

Plastics manufacturing

aliphatic amines, polycyclic compounds, acid anhydrides, diazonium salts, formaldehyde, methyl methacrylate, diisocyanates, trypsin, bromelin, polyvinyl chloride (fume & dust), azodicarbonamide, styrene, polypropylene fume, dioctyl phthalate

Platinum refining

chloroplatinic acid, ammonium hexachloroplatinate, soluble platinum salts

Polyurethane foam manufacturing

toluene diisocyanate, diphenylmethane diisocyanate, 4-methylmorpholine

Polyurethane foam spraying


Poultry processing

chicken dander and feathers, amprolium hydrochloride

Prawn/crab processing

prawns, crabs


vegetable gums

Refuse collection processing


Rubber industry

aliphatic amines, polycyclic compounds, aromatic amines and derivatives, diazonium salts, formaldehyde

Seafood industry


Silkworm culturing

silkworms, sericin


solder flux fume, colophony, polyether alcohol, polypropylene glycol

Steel industry


Surgical glove manufacturing



aliphatic amines, polycyclic compounds, coloring reagents, enzymes, formaldehyde, chromium salts, sulphites, persulphates, casein

Tea processing

tea dust


cleaning agents, mold, dusts

Textile industry

cochineal dust, carmine red, coloring reagents, enzymes, vegetable gums, chromium salts, sericin, natural fibers, latex

Tobacco farming and processing

tobacco leaf, tobacco dust

Tungsten carbide tool manufacturing/grinding

cobalt, nickel


bis (tri-n-butyltin) oxide

Veterinary medicine

animal proteins, urine/dander, penicillins, cephalosporins, macrolids, piperazine

Water treatment industry

chloramides, sulfones, chloramine-T


chromium salts, nickel, chromium, vanadium, zinc chloride, ammonium chloride


mites, organophosphorous insecticides


wood dust, ramin

Wool processing


X-ray processing