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Lucas's Story

Meet Lucas. Lucas had work-related asthma. He is a laboratory technician. Watch the video clip below to hear his story and to see how his story relates to you.

Lucas was recently taken to the emergency room because of an asthma exacerbation situation. So, we decided to talk to him and ask him about his condition before and after this incident…
Tell us about yourself and your asthma?

I'm Lucas. 24 years old. I've been having asthma since my childhood. I don't smoke, I never had any previous hay fever, but I have a family history of asthma.

My asthma developed for the first time when I was 4. Exacerbations have occurred a few times a month since then, in most cases triggered by cold air, hot humid air, physical activity, colds, stress, and exposures to paint and to cats and birds that were kept in my home.

Describe to us your work environment…

I started working as a laboratory technician 10 months ago. Our lab is usually very cold and not well ventilated.

In our lab, I am exposed to enzymes, I need to use spray cleaning agents to clean the equipment, and wear latex gloves almost all the time. In some days, I need to open freezers very frequently and pick up and carry mice, rats and guinea pigs from the animal facilities.

You've recently been taken to the emergency room because of an asthma exacerbation situation, how was your asthma condition before this incident?

That's right. I was just recently taken to the emergency room because of an asthma exacerbation situation.

I wasn't sleeping well lately, possibly due to coughing during the nights. At times I had a runny and stuffy nose followed by coughing, shortness of breath and chest tightness.

Previously I had shortness of breath only with extreme exertion and only used a reliever inhaler when needed for my asthma. But, recently I had difficulty breathing with the mildest of activities.

At the time I was taken to the emergency room, I had been taking a reliever inhaler 2-4 times a day for two days.

My symptoms used to occur at the end of the workday and cleared over weekend when I was off work and the symptoms were occurring more frequently for the past four to five months.

What were the results of the tests?

I underwent tests in the emergency room and was seen by an asthma specialist. The specialist felt that my asthma was made worse by the cold exposure in the freezer and the cleaning products at work. Specific tests indicated that I had no allergy to the laboratory animals or latex or to the enzymes used at my work.

What happened next?

I was recommended to improve my current treatment by using a regular inhaled corticosteroid medication. My asthma improved over the next 3 weeks and I was able to return to work after 3 weeks. I had to avoid using the freezer though and wear a mask when the cleaning products were being sprayed. My symptoms disappeared and I had no further difficulties.

I was advised by my General Practitioner (GP) and asthma specialist that I could apply for workers' compensation for the 3 weeks that I had lost from work due to my asthma symptoms. But I declined to do so.

Lucas had work-exacerbated asthma that could be well controlled with his advised management. Not all Canadian provincial workers' compensation systems allow claims for work-exacerbated asthma but in some provinces this can be provided. Occupational asthma can be compensated by workers' compensation systems in all provinces of Canada.


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