Occupational Asthma Make an Appointment Find a Doctor Ask a Question Reviewed by David Tinkelman, MD (April 01, 2012) Workplace exposure to certain chemicals or dusts can induce asthma. Some chemicals act as sensitizers, inducing allergic reactions in the airways. Once the airways become sensitized to a specific chemical, even very small amounts can make asthma worse. Other substances, such as dusts, can be airway irritants, causing symptoms in employees who have underlying asthma or who are exposed to high concentrations. Diagnosis and Management It is important to quickly recognize and control workplace exposures to increase the likelihood of completely resolving the asthma symptoms. A long-term comparison of peak flow meter numbers at work and away from work can help confirm the workplace association. If you suspect exposures at work are causing or contributing to your asthma, work closely with your doctor and employee health specialist to diagnose and control the exposure. Programs & Services Asthma Treatment Program (Adult) Division of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences Clinical Trials For more than 100 years, National Jewish Health has been committed to finding new treatments and cures for diseases. Search our clinical trials.