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Workers in certain industries and jobs at higher risk of dying from COPD: CDC

Photo: Yurii Yarema/iStockphoto

Atlanta — An elevated risk of death linked to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among workers in certain industries and occupations highlights the need for better employee health policies and targeted interventions, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Using the National Vital Statistics System, researchers looked at U.S. residents 15 and older in 46 states and New York City for whom information on their usual industry and job was listed. Data from 2020 – the most recent available – helped them identify more than 316,000 worker deaths linked to COPD. That year, COPD was the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. 

The three industries with the highest proportionate mortality ratios were mining, accommodation and food service, and construction. Among occupations, those with the highest PMRs were food prep and serving, health care support, and construction and extraction.


Workplace exposures such as secondhand smoke, vapors, dust and fumes are likely contributing risk factors and hazards, according to the report, which notes that the reason for high COPD rates in certain worker groups isn’t well defined. 

The researchers say their study “underscores the importance of targeted interventions to prevent COPD from developing and intervening before it becomes symptomatic or severe.”

The report was published online in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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