To describe the latest developments in the field of occupational asthma and occupational rhinitis in 2001 and 2002.
Several surveillance programs of occupational diseases, such as Observatoire National des Asthmes Professionnels in France, Surveillance of work-related and Occupational Respiratory Diseases in South Africa (SORDSA), Surveillance of Work-related and Occupational Respiratory Diseases (SWORD) in UK, have reported on the frequency of occupational asthma. The causative agents were mainly flour, isocyanates and latex. The common methods of diagnosis - questionnaires, cutaneous tests, Peak Expiratory Flow Rate (PEFR), bronchial hyperresponsiveness - still create controversy. In addition, the specific bronchial challenge, the classical gold standard of diagnosis, has its limitations since it cannot be performed in every case. Other methods have been assessed as inflammatory markers in induced sputum. Occupational rhinitis appears to be a poorly diagnosed condition.
Further studies are expected to explore the effect of environmental control and medical surveillance. The key to successful management of occupational asthma and occupational rhinitis may be prospective surveillance of the occurrence of specific IgE antibodies before the onset of allergic symptoms.
Department of Pneumology, Lyautey Hospital, Strasbourg Cedex, France
Correspondence to Gabrielle Pauli, Department of Pneumology, Lyautey Hospital, P.O. Box 426, 67091 Strasbourg Cedex, France E-mail: Gabrielle.Pauli@chru-strasbourg.fr