Workplace exposures Mining_Oil_Gas Construction

Scientific academy calls for new paradigm on preventing COPD


Photo: Ian Hubball/iStock/Thinkstock

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.

Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy. (Anonymous comments are welcome; merely skip the “name” field in the comment box. An email address is required but will not be included with your comment.)