Table of Contents
Journal of Allergy
Volume 2012, Article ID 597306, 10 pages
Review Article

Occupational Asthma: New Low-Molecular-Weight Causal Agents, 2000–2010

1Department of Chest Medicine, Sacré-Cœur Hospital, University of Montreal, QC, Canada H4J 1C5
2Department of Chest Medicine, Mont-Godinne Hospital, Université Catholique de Louvain, 5530 Yvoir, Belgium

Received 8 April 2011; Accepted 26 January 2012

Academic Editor: Eugene R. Bleecker

Copyright © 2012 J. A. Pralong et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. More than 400 agents have been documented as causing occupational asthma (OA). The list of low-molecular-weight (LMW) agents that have been identified as potential causes of OA is constantly expanding, emphasizing the need to continually update our knowledge by reviewing the literature. Objective. The objective of this paper was to identify all new LMW agents causing occupational asthma reported during the period 2000–2010. Methods. A Medline search was performed using the keywords occupational asthma, new allergens, new causes, and low-molecular-weight agents. Results. We found 39 publications describing 41 new LMW causal agents, which belonged to the following categories: drugs ( ), wood dust ( ), chemicals ( ), metals ( ), biocides ( ), and miscellaneous ( ). The diagnosis of OA was confirmed through SIC for 35 of 41 agents, peak expiratory flow monitoring for three (3) agents, and the clinical history alone for three (3) agents. Immunological tests provided evidence supporting an IgE-mediated mechanism for eight (8) (20%) of the newly described agents. Conclusion. This paper highlights the importance of being alert to the occurrence of new LMW sensitizers, which can elicit OA. The immunological mechanism is explained by a type I hypersensitivity reaction in 20% of all newly described LMW agents.