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Posted on October 09th, 2019
COPD, asthma, acute lower respiratory tract infections, TB and lung cancer are among the most common illnesses of blue-collar employees. Making certain changes such as improve ventilation, wear protective equipment, awareness of the potential hazards, can help you avoid work-related lung damage.
Blue-collar is the class of skilled workers who engage in hard manual labor, typically in manufacturing, construction, mining, or maintenance.
Manufacturing - In factories, blue-collar workers can be exposed to everything from inhaled metals in foundries to silica which can lead to silicosis, a condition that scars the lungs.
Construction - Occupational exposures encountered by construction workers can cause many kinds of lung diseases. For example, exposure to respirable crystalline silica and asbestos can lead to:
Mining - Studies of coal miners have shown an increased risk for everything from bronchitis to pneumoconiosis - a chronic condition caused by inhaling coal dust that becomes embedded in the lungs, causing an abnormality of the lung tissue. About 2.8 percent of coal miners have evidence of coal worker's pneumoconiosis - also known as black lung disease.
Certain types of jobs can expose workers to unsafe substances that can irritate the lining of the lungs. Toxins associated with blue-collar workers' risk perceptions of lung condition:
Fumes - Fumes from metals that are heated and cooled quickly, resulting in fine, solid particles being carried through the air.
Products like insulation, paint, polyurethane, blown foam, and solvents can also release chemical fumes into the air, causing asthma or chronic bronchitis. Examples of blue-collar jobs include welding, smelting, furnace work, pottery making, plastics manufacturing.
Dust - Dust particles are generated by the disturbance of rocks, or fibers material and include those that arise from handling grain and cotton, as well as from mining, quarrying, tunneling, stone masonry, construction, and any process which breaks or separates solid material.
Fibers - Unlike most minerals that turn into dust particles when crushed, asbestos breaks up into tiny microscopic fibers that can float in the air for long periods of time. The inhalation of asbestos fibers may lead to a number of respiratory diseases, including:
Gases - Many types of gases may suddenly be released during industrial accidents that may severely irritate the lungs. Chlorine, ammonia, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides are found at blue-collar jobs with high heat operations, such as welding, brazing, smelting, oven drying, and furnace work.
Investigations have shown that smoking is more prevalent among blue-collar workers than among persons in other sectors of the population. The interaction between tobacco smoke and occupational toxins can increase the risk of lung-conditions for blue-collar workers by up to 50 times compared to individuals who do not smoke and are not exposed to occupational toxins.
Most work-related lung diseases are caused by repeated and prolonged exposure, but even a significant, single exposure to an unsafe agent can damage the lungs. Blue-collar occupations that put workers at risk for lung function loss due to asbestos exposure on the job include: