It is estimated that up to 17% of adult asthma cases may be caused by exposure to inhaled irritants in the workplace, making people with COPD at even greater risk from these types of jobs. Occupational lung diseases are preventable using a little common sense and control measures. Here are 10 fields that can cause you problems over time:
- Construction: Inhaled dust can cause mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.
- Firefighting: Inhaled smoke and chemicals caused by burning structures as well as asbestos exposure after the fire has been extinguished can be harmful over time.
- Textiles: Byssinosis is common among those who make upholstery, socks, towels and clothes who have inhaled cotton dust or other materials.
- Automotive Repair: Spray-on paints can irritate skin and the lungs causing severe breathing problems.
- Transportation: Delivery truck drivers, railroad workers and those who unload materials on loading docks can be at risk for COPD. Diesel exhaust is the culprit.
- Manufacturing: Factory workers are exposed to myriad of irritants such as dust, chemicals and gases. Diacetyl, a flavoring agent used in microwave popcorn, is linked to bronchiolitis obliterans, a relative of COPD.
- Health Care: Up to 12% of health care workers are allergic to latex. This can cause a severe airway reaction. Many places have switched to latex-free gloves.
- Baking: Exposure to flour dust and enzymes used in dough-making can lead to developing of an allergic sensitization. Also a danger are allergens shed by insects that are found in flour.
- Mining: Dust exposure from coal, rocks, minerals, and sand can lead to black lung and silicosis.
- Bartending: Smoke-filled bars and restaurants put workers at high risk for developing lung disease.These days most states have banned smoking which has helped immensely.
What should you do if you work in these high-risk fields? First, if you smoke, stop! Use a mask or respirator, make sure the room is well-ventilated, and use gloves and goggles if needed. Don’t think that because you are young you don’t need to be concerned. Lung damage takes place over time so start now to protect yourself.
Reference: Time Health Winter 2018