A small, preliminary study suggests an association between argan powder and occupational asthma, according to research presented on Monday at the 2013 European Respiratory Society Annual Congress, which took place in Barcelona, Spain.

For the study, nine patients from a cosmetic factory in France completed a questionnaire about their medical history and underwent lung function and allergy tests, along with an inhalation challenge test. All participants have been exposed to the product in three different forms: crude granules, powder or liquid.

Four of the nine workers displayed asthma or rhinitis symptoms, and had a blocked nose when handling argan powder. Three of the nine workers had occupational asthma caused by argan powder, proved by specific challenge tests. Two of the four also had a positive allergy skin prick-test to argan powder.

The authors believe the findings warrant further research to understand any health risks associated with the compound.