Asthma UK community forum

Asthma at work

I work in an office where humidity is below 40% sometimes as low as 15%, I have seen the Occupational Health adviser and he has confirmed that this humidity will set of my asthma. He has advised a move to a more suitable office however there doesnt appear to be one and I am continuing to work in my normal office. Since Feb I have had 3 asthma attacks which have caused me to come home but my boss has said that these asthma attacks are due to a Chest infection I had in Jan not the humidity even though the office stats show the humidity was at its worse on these 3 occassions. I am due to return to work on tues and the boss has confirmed humidity is still below the 40%, seems that employers can do what they like, any advice? My union is involved but my boss doesnt take any notice of them!!!!

6 Replies

nasal breathing can improve the tolerance for drier humidity


I find that breathing through my nose has helped enormously to reduce my reaction to drier less humid air. I drink a lot more water now (started to drink fizzy water recently in preference) as i think i was chronically dehydrated (many people are).

The nasal breathing means that my lungs stay at a better humidity as the volume i breathe is reduced, my nose filters the air and moistens it on the breath in, and when i breathe out (through my nose only) my nose removes the moisture again thus keeping my lungs at a better humidity and far more comfortable.

My nose was always blocked (for 32 years) and once i learned to breathe through it, it hasn't blocked in 6 years.

Helps too with exercising to limit trigger/particle inhalation and reduce symptoms during and after exercise.


Oh dear Andy am sorry you are having a tough time at work, its so frustrating when people especially non asthmatic bosses fail to understand triggers such as humidity. Hope your union can do something for you, in the meantime hang on in there and don't let it get you down too much.

By the way don't hold your breath on the nasal breathing technique working, in my experience it only benefits people who suffer from panic attacks - cos it calms then down and distracts them from the focus of their fear as they focus on their breathing instead. It may be beneficial if you have mild asthma, it certainly didn't work for me and landed me in recuss followed by a lengthy admission and a fair few lectures on the dangers/downside of alternative treatments. In short if its too good to be true it probably isn't. Oh and if you do try it learn it from a health care professional and don't stop any of your asthma meds. Its not safe and asthma is a life threatening condition and needs to be respected and treated accordingly its too risky in my opinion to try 'magic wand' treatments. Take good care, let us know how you get on next week, Lois


Could you take in a portable humidifier and plug it in next to where you work? It would only raise the humididty near to you but might be enough to make you more comfortable. I had one for the children's bedroom for when they had croup etc and took mine into work when the evil air-conditioning was in full flow. It helped a bit. If Occ Health are saying that humidity is an issue, than you could argue that taking your own machine in as an 'interim measure pending appropriate management action' is a reasonable temporary adjustment.


Post deleted by poster as she did rather go up in smoke.


This is cold comfort, but I know how you feel and you are not alone, as my office is next to a mill, which when the asthma plays up can trigger off an attack which needs a paramedic. My solution to the problem is to try to organise a transfer which is at present not happening.

Best of luck with your situation and I hope you get transferred soon.


Work shouldnt make you sick!

Hi Welsh Andy

Your post really frustrated me in terms of an employers responsibility to ensure that your working environment does not have an adverse impact on your health, i am not sure what the legal blurb would be but surely there is something.

Many moons ago when i worked in a large office, some manager, in their wisdom decided to make my office ( which i shared with a smoker) the official smoking room for the whole department. The room looked like a steamie! Now that was over 10 years ago but it was ridiculous and i ended up with a smokers cough before i felt brave enough to admit that i had a health problem! i was then moved to a different office and promptly.

Anyway back to you Welsh Andy, i suppose your GP could write to the occupational nurse and sign you off work until the office environment is ok for your health and isnt making you sick.

Good luck and post the results!!



You may also like...