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Industrial diseases

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Occupational disease lawyers

Home > Personal Injury > Industrial Diseases > Asthma caused by latex

Asthma caused by latex

What is asthma?

Asthma is a condition that affects the ability to breath. It is caused when the airways narrow through exposure to some form of irritant, restricting the flow of air into the lungs. External irritants are many and varied, but the condition can often be reversed by medication.

In some cases, the narrowing will correct itself spontaneously in a short time. Often asthma may not develop until weeks or months after the initial exposure. Some people will be more susceptible to latex allergy if they already suffer from other allergies such as food related allergies.

In some cases the sensitivity may subside over time but many people who develop this disease will need to take medication for the rest of their lives. In some serious cases, if left untreated, the condition will become chronic when even removal of the irritant will not be enough to prevent future attacks.

Often the sufferer will also have been left sensitised to other chemicals that can be found even in their home environment and re-exposure to latex causes the body’s immune system to overreact, believing it to be harmful.

Early detection and treatment can often result in a full recovery from occupational asthma. Please seek medical advice as soon as you think you may have been affected by exposure in the workplace.

Skin disease compensation for latex allergy

Our client had been negligently exposed to latex on a continuous and extensive basis by her employer, who had been fully aware of our client’s diagnosed allergy to it.

Despite admitting liability, the defendant refused to negotiate an acceptable level of skin disease compensation and our specialist occupational disease lawyers were forced to issue court proceedings. However, they were able to negotiate satisfactory settlement terms before the trial and our client accepted a five-figure sum in compensation.
More about Skin disease compensation for latex allergy

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Please select one of the links below to read more about asthma caused by latex, and to see whether Clear Answers may be able to help you make a claim for industrial disease compensation.

Symptoms of an asthma attack

Symptoms of an asthma attack include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and tightness across the chest. An asthma attack can be very distressing and frightening and is made worse when the sufferer has a cold or flu. Exposure to smoke, dust or pollen can also intensify the attack.

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Types of latex allergy

The most serious form of latex allergy causes respiratory problems accompanied by an allergic rash called “hives”. Reactions of this type typically appear immediately following contact with latex. Very violent reactions can result in an anaphylaxis shock. This type of reaction is classed as type 1 and in some rare cases can be fatal.

Less violent is type IV which normally appears within a day or two of exposure. It causes the contact area to become itchy, and a flaky rash will appear.

Regular contact with latex can also cause irritant contact dermatitis which causes the skin to be irritated, painful and causing discomfort. Latex allergy is also known to cause eczema.

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What causes asthma?

Although some sufferers will have developed asthma in childhood through hereditary conditions or exposure to irritants in the environment, it is estimated that approximately 10% of adults who develop the disease do so through exposure to irritants in their working environment.

The list of irritants is long but some of those more commonly used in the workplace that are known to cause asthma include colophony, enzymes, flour or grain, isocyanates, laboratory animals, and of course latex.

If you work in an industry that exposes you to any of these irritants, and you have developed asthma in your adult life, you may be able to make a claim for industrial disease compensation.

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Occupations with greater risk of exposure to latex

Natural rubber latex is found in many products, most commonly rubber gloves. These contain powder which is released into the atmosphere when the gloves are removed, and the powder inhaled. Sensitivity can also be triggered through contact with the skin.

Commonly used by healthcare staff such as laboratory workers and hospital staff such as nurses, the use of rubber gloves is also becoming more common in many other occupations. Police officers, cleaning staff, hairdressers and even professionals such as art dealers or historians, now routinely use them. As the powder is air-borne, it is not always necessary for the gloves to be worn to be exposed. For some people, even touching the box which has contained the gloves may be enough to trigger an attack.

Stethoscopes, intravenous tubing, catheters, and even bandages also contain latex, exposing medical staff to further risks through their use of these types of equipment.

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Regulations to protect workers from developing asthma

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations, otherwise known as the COSHH Regulations, were established to protect workers from exposure to chemicals and other substances in the workplace that might cause diseases such as asthma.

Failure to remove or reduce the risk as much as possible by an employer, is a breach of these regulations. If you have been exposed to an irritant which has brought about or heightened the onset of asthma in the course of carrying out your work, you may be entitled to compensation for asthma.

Preventative measures that are available to employers include the use of non-latex gloves, screening for vulnerable employees, and establishing good practice procedures around hygiene.

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Making a claim for asthma caused by exposure to latex

Clear Answers’ solicitors has a dedicated team of personal injury lawyers specialising in industrial diseases such as latex induced asthma. They have huge experience of work-related disease claims and will be happy to answer any questions you may have in plain English. If you or your family have been affected by an industrial disease, telephone us now on 0800 783 9019 or complete one of our online compensation claim forms.

Strict time limits apply to making a claim for any type of personal injury, so please contact an experienced solicitor as soon as you think you may have a claim for compensation.

Please visit our section on information and advice for more details on making a personal injury compensation claim.

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