Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), also known as Chronic Obstructive Airways Disease (COAD), is a blanket term for obstructive lung conditions like bronchitis and emphysema. These conditions reduce the airflow out of the lungs. The Health Service Executive in the UK estimates that 15-20% of all COPDs could be work related.
These shocking figures could be prevented by taking the proper precautions, including wearing the correct Respiratory Protective Equipment.
Here are some of these chronic conditions:
Asthma - an obstructive lung disease linked to exposure to irritants or allergens (sensitisers) at work. A reversible shortness of breath.
Extrinsic Allergic Alveolitis (EAA) - an allergic condition which affects workers exposed to biological dusts causing conditions including Farmers' Lung and Pigeon Fanciers' Lung.
Fibrosing Alveolitis - also known as pulmonary fibrosis, can be caused by some occupational dust exposures, such as working with cobalt or hard metals in cutting tools. Related conditions, such as flock workers' lung and popcorn lung have been discovered recently.
Pneumoconiosis - a group of restrictive lung diseases like asbestosis, silicosis and talcosis, where dust exposure causes debilitating lung scarring,
Cancers - tumours, particularly of the nose and lungs, are related to substances commonly encountered at work, including asbestos, silica, chrome VI, nickel, cadmium and wood dust. These account for thousands of work related deaths each year,
Heart Disease - dust affected lungs put extra strain on the heart, which can lead to rightsided heart failing. Some occupational exposures, like hard metal dust, can cause potentially fatal conditions such as cardiomyopathy. Very fine dust particles can cause inflammation of the heart and a higher risk of heart attack.
Other Problems - exposure levels half the allowable for most workplace dusts overwhelm the body's first line of defense, the mucociliary clearance, that filters out dust in the upper respiratory tract, This can leave the worker more vulnerable to infections and more susceptible to occupational lung diseases.
Neal is the MD and founder of Asbestos Safe. He has 20 years experience working with Asbestos and hazardous waste and decided to bring that experience to the safety industry.