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Could your asthma be linked to toxic work exposure?

If you are one of the more than 38 million Americans living with asthma, you already know that the condition can affect almost every aspect of your life. But you still have to be able to work and pay your bills, so you struggle on. You take your pills and use your inhaler and hope for the best.

But what you might not realize is that a toxic workplace exposure can worsen your condition and even place you at risk of death.

In fact, nearly 10% of asthma sufferers' conditions stem from their workplace due to being exposed to vapors or other substances that trigger an asthmatic response. Florida workers have even higher percentages — 14.1%.

In one three-year period, nearly 60% of working adults coping with asthma related their worsened symptoms to the conditions that they experienced while working.

Work-related asthma is triggered by workplace exposure to irritants like pollution, allergens, emissions and chemical irritants. Some victims already were diagnosed with asthma and their conditions were made worse by on-the-job exposures. But still others had never had asthma attacks until they took a new job.

Then, within hours or days of their exposure to an irritant on the job, they developed asthma symptoms. In some cases, the worker may not develop the condition for weeks, months or years, yet it is still the root cause of their breathing condition.

What can you do if you suspect or know that a toxic exposure at work caused or worsened your asthma? Your first duty is to your health. But you also must notify your employer of the known or suspected link if you intend to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits.­

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