Occupation and COPD: a brief review

Department of Medicine, Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA.
Journal of Asthma (Impact Factor: 1.8). 09/2011; 49(1):2-4. DOI: 10.3109/02770903.2011.611957
Source: PubMed


This review summarizes the scientific literature relevant to occupational risk factors for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
This review emphasizes recent work in the field, while placing this in the context of two previous systematic reviews of the subject.
Both the earlier summaries of the literature estimated that the population attributable risk percent (PAR%) of COPD linked to occupational exposures is approximately 15%. More recent studies also strongly support the association between workplace exposures and COPD. Among never smokers, the PAR% for work-related factors may approach 40%. Emerging data also indicate that occupational exposures, at a minimum, are additive to smoking-associated risk of COPD.
The PAR% for work-related COPD is at least 15%. Scientific significance. The consistency, strength, and plausibility of these data support a causal relationship between occupational exposures and COPD.

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    • "Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) represents a leading cause of death worldwide. As much as 15% of COPD cases have been attributed to occupational exposures (Balmes et al., 2003; Blanc 2012). COPD has serious medical, social and economic consequences as the clinical signs of disease develop slowly, so complicating early diagnosis and often results in pulmonary and extrapulmonary complications (Eisner et al., 2011). "

    Full-text · Article · Aug 2015
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    • "Because of the large contribution of smoking to the incidence of COPD, occupational contribution has been overlooked despite the presence of strong evidence for occupational exposure as a non-smoking cause of COPD. A recent review estimated the population-attributable risk of occupation for COPD approximately 15% (5). "
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    ABSTRACT: The respiratory system is one of the most important body systems particularly from the viewpoint of occupational medicine because it is the major route of occupational exposure. In 2013, there were significant changes in the specific criteria for the recognition of occupational diseases, which were established by the Enforcement Decree of the Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance Act (IACIA). In this article, the authors deal with the former criteria, implications of the revision, and changes in the specific criteria in Korea by focusing on the 2013 amendment to the IACIA. Before the 2013 amendment to the IACIA, occupational respiratory disease was not a category because the previous criteria were based on specific hazardous agents and their health effects. Workers as well as clinicians were not familiar with the agent-based criteria. To improve these criteria, a system-based structure was added. Through these changes, in the current criteria, 33 types of agents and 11 types of respiratory diseases are listed under diseases of the respiratory system. In the current criteria, there are no concrete guidelines for evaluating work-relatedness, such as estimating the exposure level, latent period, and detailed examination methods. The results of further studies can support the formulation of detailed criteria. Graphical Abstract
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2014 · Journal of Korean Medical Science
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    • "These data are supported by a number of review publications, e.g. Blanc (2012). Low-toxicity dusts include all poorly soluble, nonfibrous dusts that, at low levels of exposure, have negligible toxic effect on the body but if inhaled in sufficient quantity, accumulate and cause injury in the terminal airways and proximal alveoli, leading to inflammation with subsequent development of COPD and, in coalminers at least, pneumoconiosis. "
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    ABSTRACT: Exposure to low-toxicity dusts, which have previously been viewed as ‘nuisance dusts’, can cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or other nonmalignant respiratory disease. In Britain, the ‘de facto’ airborne exposure limits for these dusts have remained unchanged for >30 years; currently, they are 10mg m−3 for inhalable dust and 4mg m−3 for respirable dust. During this time, exposures in industry have decreased and although in the past, many occupational dust exposures may have exceeded these limits, today this is less likely. However, there is good evidence from epidemiology and toxicology studies that current dust exposures may still present a risk to workers and that for some of those who are affected, there are devastating health consequences. Numerous researchers and others have drawn attention to the necessity to control dust exposures to levels lower than are currently accepted in Britain. It is proposed that until regulators agree on the safe occupational exposure limits for low-toxicity dusts, health and safety professionals should consider 1mg m−3 of respirable dusts as a more appropriate guideline than the value of 4mg m−3 currently used in Britain.
    Preview · Article · Jul 2013 · Annals of Occupational Hygiene
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