Figures suggest baking flour poses respiratory risk

The Government has suggested that nearly 18 bakers a year succumb to occupational asthma through their exposure to flour dust.

The figures have emerged as part of a response to a written parliamentary question from Labour MP for Halifax Linda Riordan.

In it, Chris Grayling, employment minister, cautioned: “Statistics specifically about the number of cases of asthma caused by high exposure to flour within the baking industry are not available. Published statistics do not allow the causative agent for cases of occupational asthma to be identified within a specific occupational group.”

But he also pointed Riordan to the Surveillance of Work Related Occupational Respiratory Disease scheme and the Occupational Physicians Reporting Activity scheme, which from 2007 to 2009 reported an estimated 18 cases of occupational asthma among “bakers and flour confectioners”.

Guidance on the risks posed by flour has been published by the Health and Safety Executive.

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