Other risks of air pollution in the workplace include asbestos fibres, welding fumes and silica dust. Silica dust can be dangerous and is found in products such as brick and concrete. Welding is a common industrial process that releases fine particulate matter and toxic gases.
If you work as a cleaner, you could be exposed to VOCs.
At work you could be exposed to substances that can make your airways more sensitive, called asthmagens. Asthmagens are substances that can lead to the development of asthma. They include certain vehicle spray paints, dust from flour, wood dust, metal working fluids and cleaning products. If you already have asthma, asthmagens can make your symptoms worse.
Air pollution in the office
You may also experience indoor air pollution in office environments. Some people can be affected by perfumes or sprays other people wear. It’s a good idea to let your colleagues know what can trigger your lung condition symptoms.
Air conditioning can affect people with lung conditions differently. For example, some people with asthma find that air conditioning helps to filter out airborne allergens – such as pollen and animal dander.
However, other people with lung conditions such as bronchiectasis find that the cold air triggers their symptoms, causing them to cough or become breathless.
If air conditioning is an issue for you, speak to your employer about sitting away from it or switching it off. If your workplace has an air conditioning unit, it’s important that your employers have this serviced at least once a year.
Your rights at work
The company you work for should do a risk assessment to understand what could harm you at work and if necessary, how they must control these risks.
If you are worried about your health and safety at work, talk to your employer, supervisor or health and safety representative. If they can’t or don’t address your concerns, you can report the problem to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).