The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Asthma risk in office

Paban Yadav (name changed), in his 20s, came to the city from Dhanbad to work in an MNC. But he started suffering from acute asthma and had to quit his job within three months.

Sumita Banerjee (name changed) developed a persistent cough after joining a corporate NGO in Salt Lake.

In both cases, it was the extreme air-conditioning in their offices that triggered the health problems. These are some of the new-age occupational hazards faced by employees of corporate offices.

“People in IT and similar occupations are suffering from respiratory problems, especially asthma,” said pulmonologist A.G. Ghosal, the director of National Allergy Asthma Bronchitis Institute. “Asthma is genetic, but it is aggravated by the environment.”

Indranil Haldar, a pulmonologist with ESI Hospital in Belur, explained that when persons vulnerable to asthma get exposed to a sudden change of temperature, there is an inflammation in the air tract, which aggravates the problem.

Professionals in corporate houses couldn’t agree more.

“You can feel the extreme chill as soon as you enter office, and the air-conditioning being centrally-controlled, you can do little about it,” said an MNC employee.

“These offices don’t believe in air-conditioning; what they do is air cooling. The steady low temperature may help in the upkeep of machines, but it’s not good for the people. Running a centralised AC at low temperatures also consumes a lot of energy,” said S. K. Kundu, a retired electrical engineer.

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