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Lung disease basics

Work-related lung diseases are those diseases affecting the lungs and caused by or made worse by work.

Risks at work

Thousands of people die from work-related lung diseases every year, in many cases due to exposures that took place many years before. Breathing in certain dusts, gases, fumes and vapours in the workplace can cause serious, long-term lung damage. Diseases like, asbestosis, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, emphysema and even lung cancer, all cause severe, often incurable, health problems that can ruin lives.


Difficulties in breathing and coughing, often painful, are just two of the symptoms that sufferers with lung diseases may have to deal with every day. Look at your trade or industry to get an understanding of the types of workplace health hazards. We explain how they can harm your lungs and the risks to your health and provide information to help to control those risks.

Updated: 2013-10-23