The presence of allergens in the workplace

The increase in allergens in the environment makes workers who carry out their activity outdoors more susceptible to the effects of allergies. It is not only about pollen, there are many allergens, more and more, that can affect our health. These allergens are also present in the workplace and we are going to refer to […]
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The increase in allergens in the environment makes workers who carry out their activity outdoors more susceptible to the effects of allergies.

It is not only about pollen, there are many allergens, more and more, that can affect our health. These allergens are also present in the workplace and we are going to refer to them in this post.

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What are allergens?

They are substances that trigger allergic reactions. When these substances come into contact with allergy sufferers, their immune system reacts by producing antibodies in order to defend itself against the allergen, causing allergy symptoms in this fight / defense.

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Allergy symptoms do not appear in the first contact, it is a process in which after continuous contact with allergens the person becomes sensitized until after a certain period of time the allergy develops.

From that moment on, each time the individual contacts the causative agent of their allergy, the same symptoms will be triggered.

What are the most common allergens?

In both the domestic and work environment, numerous allergies can occur from contact with different allergens, among which the following stand out:

Dust mites

Mites are insects that live in hot and humid environments, we can find them in carpets or rugs, in upholstered chairs, even among work clothes, etc.

There are preventive measures for its control:

  • Avoid decorative elements that lead to the accumulation of dust.
  • Use of adequate ventilation and air conditioning systems.
  • Maintain environmental conditions between 18 and 20º C and a relative humidity of 50-60%.
  • perform regular cleaning preferably using vacuum cleaners with a suitable filter.


Produced by plants of all types and diversity, although it is usually a seasonal allergy, it is one of the most common.

Among the preventive measures for this type of allergies, among which are:

  • Keep the windows closed both in the office and in the means of transport, especially in the time zone where the pollen concentration is highest (first thing in the morning and at dusk).
  • Install air conditioning systems with pollen filters.
  • Avoid contact with allergy-causing plants.
  • Use protective masks if necessary.
  • Change clothes and shower when you get home.
  • Visit the specialist doctor to prescribe the most appropriate treatment.

Fungi and mold

The main allergens of these are its spores, which occur in warm and humid environments, so we can find it anywhere where the right conditions for its development exist: basements, bathrooms, kitchens, laundries, etc.

Preventive measures for this type of allergies are aimed at the formation of molds and fungi, such as:

  • Air rooms frequently to maintain good ventilation
  • In the case of environments with high humidity levels, it will be necessary to use dehumidifiers
  • Clean moldy walls and paint them with anti-mold paint.
  • Clean the most problematic areas with anti-mold cleaning substances.

Allergens of animal origin

Own activities related to livestock or companion animal husbandry. Obviously, a person with this type of allergy should not perform any task related to the care of animals, however some tips to avoid this type of allergies are:

  • Avoid contact with animals.
  • Brush and clean the animal’s hair regularly.
  • Frequently clean the areas where the animal is most.
  • Carry out the tasks with the appropriate personal protective equipment.

Chemical substances

present in many products used in the world of work, and the cause of most allergies to workers.

It can occur in work activities carried out abroad: construction works, agriculture, gardening, etc.



Although it is not an allergy typical of the work environment, it can occur due to the ingestion of some medication during working hours or due to inhalation during its handling in pharmaceutical industries or hospital environments.

Job sectors with a high rate of allergies

  • Hairdressers: dermatitis caused by contact with dyes and bleaches that contain products such as ammonia and hydrogen peroxide.
  • Agriculture: rhinitis and asthma caused by contact with plants, fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Livestock: rhinitis and asthma caused by contact with animals, especially with their hair.
  • Food and catering: rhinitis and asthma due to contact and inhalation of flours used to make certain foods, it may also be due to the presence of dust mites and molds. In this sector, certain contact dermatites also tend to appear due to the continuous use of detergents.
  • Healthcare area: contact dermatitis with detergents, chemicals and latex gloves.
  • Construction: dermatitis due to contact with products such as cement, resins, silicones. Rhinitis and asthma may also appear from inhalation of dust.
  • Metallurgy: dermatitis due to contact with metals and their dust, contact with cutting oils, paints, etc.
  • Carpentry: the treatment and cutting of wood produces a large amount of dust that leads to rhinitis and asthma. In this activity varnishes and resins that cause the same symptoms are used.

Tips to avoid allergic complications

At the first allergy symptom: React, visiting a specialist doctor.

Follow the advice of your specialist at all times.

Know your job position and the nature of the substances and products that you are going to handle.

Inform your superior of your allergic condition and the substances that cause it.

Periodic monitoring of your state of health by carrying out periodic medical examinations, which although they do not serve to prevent an allergy will help you detect it.

Check the safety data sheet for the chemicals you have to handle.

Handle chemicals and materials following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Use the personal protective equipment that is necessary to safely perform your daily task.

If you take antihistamine drugs to control your allergy symptoms, remember that most reduce your alertness and cause drowsiness, so you should follow the advice detailed in the leaflet.

Finally remind you that you should take allergies seriously since there is a serious situation that continuous contact with the causative agent can lead to, which is anaphylactic shock defined as a generalized, rapid-onset allergic reaction that can be serious, and in some cases even fatal. This situation is a cause of medical emergency.

Some of its symptoms are:

  • Sickness
  • Respiratory distress
  • Tachycardia
  • Anxiety
  • Dry mouth
  • Burning or paresthesia in the tongue
  • Pruritus
  • Rashes
  • Blistering and inflammation of the eyelids

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