According to figures released by the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2008 about 23,000 workers were diagnosed with lung disease that came about as a result of their jobs. Nearly 16,000 people die of lung-related conditions every year. The good news is, in most cases, occupational lung diseases, including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease (COPD) are preventable. Here are 7 jobs that spell the maximum disaster for the health of your lungs, along with advice on what you can do to keep yourself safe. Let’s take a deep breath and begin.
For obvious reasons, mining is right at the top of this list. Exposure to dust and airborne silica a.k.a quartz can cause silicosis, a condition that scars the lungs. Another disease that is commonly noticed among miners is pneumoconiosis or black lung, which is brought about by prolonged exposure to coal dust. To reduce danger to lungs miners are advised not to smoke heavily and wear dust-filtering masks.
When rescuing people from a burning building, firefighters inhale not just smoke but also a wide range of harmful chemicals. Although firefighters are expected to wear the breathing apparatus while doing the job, they usually take it off when sifting through the debris to make sure the fire won’t break out again. The fire may be out but firefighters are still exposed to asbestos and other toxic material. For this reason, the International Association of Firefighters strongly recommends firefighters to don their respiratory protective gear at all times during firefighting
Construction workers are at high risk of developing mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. The last is a condition that causes not just scarring but also stiffening of the lungs.A protective gear that includes a respirator is essential for construction workers. This becomes even more essential if they are working around older buildings made fro material containing asbestos, which were not banned back in the days.
4. Health Care
Surprising as that may sound, healthcare workers can be at the receiving end as well. Powder residue commonly spotted in latex gloves can cause allergies, not to mention severe asthma-like reaction. Unfortunately, working without latex gloves is not an option for nurses and doctors. The initiative has to come from the hospitals’ side. By switching to synthetic gloves that are latex-free they can ensure a healthier work environment for their staff.
A common condition among textile workers is Byssinosis, which is also popularly known as the brown lung disease. Their job demands working with cotton which, when ripped apart, releases a lot of dust and particles. This can lead to airflow obstruction and other respiratory problems. The best way to protect yourself is to wear a mask and work in a well ventilated work environment.
The delicious job of baking is not without its occupational hazards. Constant exposure to flour dust can lead to allergic reactions. In addition, weevils, moths, and beetles commonly found in flour compound the problem even more. Finally, the enzymes used frequently to change dough-consistency can also lead to asthmatic reaction. Good ventilation is a must as are protective masks.
7. Automotive Industry
Professionals specifically dealing with auto-body repair are in constant contact with spray-on paints that contain polyurethane and isocyanate. These can cause a variety of problems, ranging from something as minor as skin irritation and allergies to tightness in the chest and severe respiratory problems. Protective gear including breathing masks can do their bit to reduce this kind of occupational hazard.
So, what kind of dangers do you face at work? And, how do you plan to protect yourself when you go back there tomorrow?
Top image source: majorhealthblog.com