Food industry flour exposure found to be the main cause of occupational asthma in France

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Flour was found to be the number one cause of occupational asthma in France, with the highest incidence rate seen in people working in the manufacture of food products and beverages.
Flour was found to be the number one cause of occupational asthma in France, with the highest incidence rate seen in people working in the manufacture of food products and beverages.

Related tags Asthma Food

Exposure of food industry workers to flour has been found to be main cause of occupational asthma in France, according to new research.

A new study, which was presented at the European Respiratory Society's International Congress​ last week, analysed all cases of occupational asthma in France.

The research, which is the largest of its kind to be undertaken in France, aimed to understand who was most affected by the condition and what the main causes were. Data was collected over a three year period from a network of respiratory doctors specialised in occupational diseases, and a total of 330 cases were analysed.

According to the data, flour exposure for workers in the food industry was identified as the main cause of occupational asthma in France - closely followed by cleaning products.

"This study has given us a detailed understanding of the occupational asthma cases in France. It helps to show us where people are being exposed to harmful agents and who is most likely to be affected,”​ said Professor Frederic De Blay from the University Hospital Strasborg, who led the study.

“These findings are important as they can help with future prevention methods to make sure people who are at risk of occupational asthma are protected from it."

Researchers estimated the incidence rate based on the figures they collected and the results of the analysis showed that;

  • Flour was identified as the main cause (seen in 20% of cases), closely followed by ammonium compounds often found in cleaning products (seen in 15% of cases)
  • The highest incidence rate was seen in people working in the manufacture of food products and beverages (279 per million) compared with those working in agriculture (160 per million)
  • Women were more likely to be diagnosed with occupational asthma (43 per million compared with 29 per million seen in men)
  • Incidence rates were higher among skilled and unskilled workers (116 per million) when compared with farmers (97 per million)

Presented at: European Respiratory Society's International Congress
Late-breaking abstract, published online
“Occupational asthma surveillance: results of the Observatoire National des Asthmes Professionnels (ONAP) II project from 2008 to 2011 in 6 French departments”
Authors:F. de Blay, et al

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