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Scientific academy calls for new paradigm on preventing COPD

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Bologna, Italy – Occupational safety and health professionals have underemphasized the significance of exposures to vapors, gases, dusts and fumes that may lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in workers, international scientific academy Collegium Ramazzini claims in a statement released July 19.

Citing 2004 data from the American Thoracic Society, the academy states that on-the-job exposure to agents such as coal mine dust, cement dust, asbestos and silica contributed to 15 percent to 20 percent of COPD cases.

COPD is relatively unknown and underdiagnosed, and its risks are typically unregulated, according to Collegium Ramazzini, which adds that some doctors don’t acknowledge occupational exposures when examining a patient with COPD. The academy is proposing “a new professional paradigm to reduce occupational and non-occupational [vapor, gas, dust and fume] exposures that cause COPD and that recognizes that in the real world most people are exposed to a mixture of VGDFs.”

In its statement, the academy calls on the World Health Organization and member nations to adopt six “action items” as part of a policy to help prevent COPD:

  • Prevent smoking.
  • Prevent occupational exposures.
  • Prevent environmental exposures.
  • Expand medical surveillance.
  • Conduct research.
  • Recognize and compensate COPD as an occupational disease.

“To successfully implement the proposed paradigm, we will need to have in place more scientific data, better standards, and better surveillance/monitoring,” the statement reads.

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