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.
- Reports by respiratory and occupational physicians (THOR) and assessments for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) underestimate the annual number of new cases of work-related COPD.
- Other research shows that about 15% of COPD is likely to be work-related. This suggests there could be around 4 000 occupational COPD deaths currently each year in GB.
- Workplace exposures likely to contribute to COPD include various dusts (coal, cotton, grain, flour, silica, and wood) as well as certain fumes and chemicals (welding fume, isocyanates, cadmium, vanadium, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). Research is underway to provide details of the main causes in GB.
Chronic bronchitis and emphysema in Great Britain, 1993-2012