Information for Workers on the Occupational Lung Disease Registry

What are occupational lung diseases?

An occupational lung disease is a lung disease that was caused or aggravated by exposure at your job. They are usually caused by repeated and long-term exposure to irritating or toxic substances. However, even a single, severe exposure to a hazardous substance can damage the lungs. Occupational lung diseases can also occur when an existing respiratory problem is made worse by certain job exposures.

What are some types of occupational lung diseases?

Occupational asthma, occupational lung cancer, silicosis, and asbestosis are just some of the occupational lung diseases.

What are examples of substances on the job that may cause lung disease?

Some workplace irritants include chemicals in paints, cleaning products and beauty salon products; dust (dander) from animals and insects; dust from wood; dust and mold from poorly cleaned and maintained buildings; latex gloves; flour; chalk dust; asbestos and silica.

Who can get occupational lung disease?

Anyone can get work-related lung disease, including office workers, construction workers, hospital workers, teachers, and beauty salon workers to name a few.

What are the symptoms of occupational lung disease?

Symptoms may include coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain and chest tightness. While these are the most common symptoms of lung disease, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Some individuals may not have any symptoms. Always consult a physician for a diagnosis.

How are occupational lung diseases diagnosed?

The same tests and procedures, such as symptom history, physical exam, chest x-ray and breathing test, that are used to diagnose lung disease will be used to diagnose an occupational lung disease. In addition a doctor will look for exposure to materials on the job that may be damaging to the lungs. They do this by taking a complete work and exposure history. Tell your doctor all the jobs you have held and the types of substances you work with on these jobs.

How can occupational lung diseases be prevented?

Occupational lung diseases are preventable. Wearing protective equipment, changing work procedures, and being educated on how to safely handle substances at work are key to preventing work-related lung diseases.

How are occupational lung diseases treated?

The types of treatment you receive will depend on the type and severity of lung disease you have, as well as your age, overall health, and medical history. Consult your physician for more information regarding the treatment of occupational lung diseases.

What should I do if I think I have an occupational lung disease?

Talk to your doctor. The New York State Occupational Health Clinic Network is also available to help assist with the diagnosis and treatment of occupational diseases. Their services are available to all workers, retirees and residents of New York State. No worker will be turned away because of inability to pay. To locate an occupational health clinic in your area New York State Occupational Health Clinic Locations and Phone Numbers.

Resources for Workers on Occupational Lung Disease

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