15% of bakery workers have asthma symptoms

Jan. 26, 2005 at 5:47 PM

LONDON, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Bakery workers might be at considerable risk of developing work-related asthma, a study by Imperial College London and the Royal Brompton Hospital concludes.

Researcher Andrew Brant said that while baker's asthma is nothing new, the study of 239 people is the first to look specifically at supermarket bakeries.

"The research shows that this is a new occupational health issue which management and bakery staffs need to be aware of," Brant said. "It is especially important given the high and increasing proportion of baking that now takes place in UK supermarkets."

The study found 26 percent of workers at an unidentified bakery chain had eye or nose problems related to their work and 15 percent reported work-related asthma symptoms.

Researchers, reporting in the European Respiratory Journal, concluded up to 9 percent of bakers, 4 percent of bakery managers and 3 percent of bakery assistants may have symptoms of asthma caused by their work. Workers also registered higher sensitivity to ingredients, such as flour, that are used in baking.

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