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Fire-fighters, factory workers and builders are in one of the ten occupations which pose the greatest risk to lung health.
That is the finding of US-based website health.com and a look through the list reveals that it could equally apply to UK professions.
All the jobs mentioned in this article’s first paragraph all have one thing in common – the work involves coming into contact with asbestos.
Asbestos was widely-used in construction and manufacturing during the 19th and 20th centuries so it is little surprise that construction and manufacturing workers feature in the top ten list.
Buildings constructed before the 1980s are highly likely to have asbestos present. This can be lethal if disturbed and inhaled in dust particles during building and renovation work.
The threat of asbestos is still at large today. Three Marks and Spencer stores in Plymouth, Reading and Bournemouth are currently facing charges of failing to provide shoppers with adequate protection from asbestos during major refurbishment.
Factory workers could also be working in buildings where asbestos lurks in the construction materials.
Fire-fighters are especially vulnerable to asbestos exposure as this mineral becomes airborne when a building catches fire.
Other professions dangerous to lungs
Of course, asbestos is not the only cause of occupation-related lung problems – below is a list of the seven other professions which health.com believes carry the greatest risk of causing breathing problems for workers.
1.Health workers - up to 12 per cent of US health care workers are estimated to be at risk of asthma if they come into contact with latex gloves used in medical procedures.
2.Textile workers - breathing can be obstructed by inhaling cotton particles.
3.Bar staff – not all US states have outlawed smoking in bars and restaurants. Surveys show that respiratory health among bar staff in cities with smoking bans has improved greatly – good news for UK employees where there is a blanket smoking ban inside bars.
4.Bakers – these workers can develop lung problems because of exposure to flour dust. Asthmatic allergic reactions to allergens shed by flour-dwelling bugs (such as weevils and moths) have also been reported.
5.Car workers – auto-spray on paints are the reason that car workers are in a risky profession – nasty side-effects of this profession can include chest tightness and breathing trouble.
6.Miners – these workers must also put their lungs on their line every time they are near coal dust.
7.Transport workers - delivery truck drivers, railroad industry workers and “those who unload merchandise on loading dust” are singled out for mention by health.com. Diesel exhaust fumes are the cause of many of these workers’ lung problems.
Solutions to many of the dangers listed above might be hard to find.
But regarding asbestos, it is to be hoped that greater awareness and improved safety equipment will help safeguard 21st century employees from the dangers of 19th and 20th century building materials.
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