Certain Professions at Higher Risk for Airway Obstructions, NIOSH Finds

July 26, 2016
NIOSH used data from a nationwide survey to determine which workers were at a greater risk for lung diseases such as asthma and COPD.

Investigators at NIOSH recently pinpointed which professions put workers at greater risk for airways obstructions and lung diseases such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (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.

In addition, tobacco smoking, exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke, and exposure to other forms of air pollution also caused an increase in risk on the job. The number of participants with airway obstruction also differed by age, sex, and race, with the highest rates among older workers aged 60–79 years, males, and non-Hispanic whites, according to NIOSH.

Overall, nearly 14% of study participants reported some type of had airway obstruction.

To read more about the findings, click here.

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