Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a serious long-term lung disease in which the flow of air into the lungs is gradually reduced by inflammation of the air passages and damage to the lung tissue. Chronic Bronchitis and emphysema are common types of COPD.
The latest information shows:
- COPD is common in later life: it is likely that over a million individuals currently have the disease in GB and there are over 25,000 deaths each year.
- The most important cause of COPD is smoking, but past exposures to fumes, chemicals and dusts at work will have also contributed to causing many currently occurring cases.
- Research suggests that about 15% of COPD can be attributed to workplace exposures (Blanc and Toren 2007), which would be equivalent to about 4,000 COPD deaths currently each year in GB.
- Workplace exposures likely to contribute to COPD include various dusts (including, coal, grain, and silica) as well as certain fumes and chemicals (including welding fume, isocyanates, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons).
- One recognised occupational group with a higher risk of COPD is coal miners. Figure 1 shows the annual number of new cases of COPD assessed for IIDB among former miners.
Annual new cases of COPD among former coal miners assessed for IIDB in Great Britain, 2005-2015