Investigators at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have determined the professions that put workers at greater risk for airway obstructions and lung diseases such as COPD.
Data from these findings was pulled from the 2007 to 2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).The nationwide survey included 4,172 working adults between the ages of 18 and 79 years, who voluntarily provided results of a test, called spirometry, which measures the ability to blow air out of the lungs. Nearly half of participants were female, and 47% were white, 20% were black, and 18% were Mexican American, according to NIOSH.
Workers in construction and oil and gas extraction reported higher instances of airway obstruction and lung diseases in addition to jobs related to installation, maintenance, and repair. Although lung diseases such as asthma and COPD have genetic influences, hazardous occupational and environmental exposures have important causative roles, according to NIOSH. The key to preventing these is working to reduce exposure to vapors, gases, dust, and fumes that cause airway obstructions.