Labour Research May 2002

Features: Health and safety matters

Push for greater asthma awareness

World Asthma Day is being held this year on 7 May. It is sponsored by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) Programme which includes public health officials, health care groups, asthma educators, patients and their families.

The main aim of World Asthma Day is to highlight that asthma is a serious public health problem throughout the world, affecting people of all ages, races and ethnic groups.

Asthma is an allergic condition of the lungs and respiratory system, which can cause breathlessness, wheezing and in some cases can be so severe it is fatal.

The World Health Organisation estimates that between 100-150 million people worldwide - 4%-12% of the population - suffer from asthma.

In the UK, work-related asthma is increasing and is one of the health issues highlighted by the TUC in its campaign to improve occupational health provision.

Workplace exposure to respiratory sensitisers cause a third of all cases of adult onset asthma - 150,000 people have occupational asthma and 1,500-1,700 new cases are caused each year by preventable exposures to eight chemicals. Workers likely to be exposed range from those in manufacturing, carpenters and painters to bakers and nurses.

The TUC will shortly be releasing training materials for safety reps on work-related asthma.

More information about World Asthma Day can be found on the GINA website at