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Worker in a plastic recycling factory

Work-related lung diseases

Lung diseases is a large group of diseases that affect millions worldwide. It is well documented that smoke, dust, gas, and fumes can affect respiratory health, and that tobacco smoking is a major cause of lung diseases. Still, 10-15 % of diagnosed lung diseases can be related to different exposures at the work place. A work-related lung disease can be defined as a lung disease that has been induced or aggravated by a particular exposure in the workplace.

Smoking Tobacco smoke is the main culprit being responsible for more than 80 % of preventable lung diseases. © Colourbox

Burning fuel for cooking In developing countries, even exposure to fumes from burning fuel for cooking and heating in poorly ventilated homes poses a risk.
© G. Tjalvin

Different exposures at work can lead to pneumoconiosis, obstructive lung diseases (asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), hypersensitivity pneumonitis (extrinsic allergic alveolitis) and cancer (lung cancer and mesothelioma). In this session we will concentrate on pneumoconioses and different obstructive lung diseases. Lung cancer and mesothelioma will be covered in the session about occupational cancer, and in the session about biological factors we told you about hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

Before we talk more about the diseases we will show you a video that illustrates the difference between restrictive versus obstructive lung function impairment. Please proceed to the next step.

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This article is from the free online course:

Occupational Health in Developing Countries

University of Bergen