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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can be work related

When we say chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, many readers will automatically think of the dangers of smoking. While COPD is a danger associated with smoking cigarettes -- and smoking is still considered to be the biggest risk factor for the disease -- it isn't the only cause of COPD. According to a study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, as many as 15 percent of COPD cases are probably work related.

Individuals who have COPD can suffer from its symptoms for many years, and COPD can eventually lead to a premature death. While risks of developing COPD can be reduced by not smoking and paying attention to environmental factors, it is still in the top four causes of death across the globe. One of the leading factors in the development of COPD is exposure to dust, smoke or other hazards that are breathed in.

Some workers are more at risk for COPD dangers than others. Certain work settings are closely linked to COPD. You probably already know that coal mines have long been linked to respiratory illnesses, but other work places that could increase risks of COPD include concrete manufacturing plants, tunnels, hard-rock mining and industrial environments unrelated to mining. Agents that can lead to COPD can also be found in the air or environment in industries that are completely unrelated to these types of work places.

If you believe that air quality is a dangerous factor in your workplace, speak to your employer about safety options and equipment needs. If you believe you are suffering from COPD caused in part or completely by hazards in current or former workplaces, speak to a workers' compensation lawyer about your options for filing a compensation claim.

Source: US National Library of Medicine, "Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and occupational exposures," Piera Boschetto, et. al., accessed July 18, 2016

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