If you think being a baker is all about sweet nothings, candy toppings and pastry balls then you’ll want consider this before taking a professional turn into that particular cloud of flour.

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Baker’s asthma (yes, it has a specific term) is the most common form or occupational asthma. There have been so many reported cases that it is now possible to take medical measures and preventative measures to prevent and treat this specific form of OA (occupational asthma). In the history of OA, respiratory reaction to flours and grains has the longest history. In 1700, Ramazzini (the founder of occupational medicine) reported shortness of breath and urticaria in those who worked with grains. Even Roman bakers wore masks when they worked with flour.

Baker’s asthma is caused by a number of elements common in bakeries. Flour and grains such as wheat, barley, rye, soy and buckwheat, as well as additives and enzymes added to improve bread quality can play a part in causing Baker’s Asthma.

While it might seem humorous or common to see a baker in a cloud of flour, it’s actually an image of poor health and could cause respiratory damage to the baker. Symptoms of Baker’s Asthma often go unnoticed by bakery workers and owners. Coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing and tightness in the chest means a baker should seek medical attention to confirm the OA symptoms, and that the bakery should get proper air ventilation to prevent further OA.

Direct source air ventilation systems, like the Fume Extractor from Electrocorp, or general air scrubber like the Air Rhino from Electrocorp could mean the difference between healthy, happy bakers and those afflicted with a constant cough, wheeze and shortness of breath.

Bakeries are one of the highest-risk industries for occupational asthma. So, if you are a baker, studying to become a baker or own a bakery then consider proper ventilation. You only get one set of lungs and while you might not have considered it before, breathing in puffs of flour and other bakery ingredients on a daily basis for hours at a time will take its toll on your body and respiratory system.