Lung and Pulmonary Health
May 3, 2016
The Link Between Decreased Lung Function and Longterm Cement Work
A recent study published in the European Respiratory Journal and conducted by researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Health (NICH) has shown the serious consequences of long-term cement exposure on workers. For the men and women who have worked for long periods of time around cement dust, their chances of an overall decrease in lung function has increased greatly, as the study has shown.
A frightening fact uncovered by the researchers was that there is an increased risk of overall decline in lung function levels even when workers are exposed to “acceptable” (i.e. in accordance with the occupational standard) levels of cement dust. What this means is that even when working under a condition that has been endorsed as safe and reasonable, the health and safety of workers is still very much at risk.
The study involved findings from a four-year follow-up of nearly 5,000 cement production employees from over 7 countries. The data found concluded that between 55-60% of workers were exposed to enough cement dust to correlate a relationship between that very exposure and diminished lung capacity and function.
The study was the first of its kind to expose the relationship between the increase of exposure to cement dust and lung volume decline. Although it was already known that the inhalation of cement dust can cause changes in the lungs as well as obstructive airway symptoms, the proof of overall decline in lung function is new, important data.
Although many of the workers in the study had been using respirators to decrease the amount of exposure, it appears as though the respirators had a small, overall effect in protecting them and their overall lung and pulmonary health. However, the study does note that respirators are not being viewed as ineffective and that there is no overall statement in regard to respirator safety being made.
The researchers, after following the cement production workers for anywhere between 3.5 to 4 years, concluded that there was an overall decline in lung function that could very well be directly related to “persistent airway inflammation”, as well as other pulmonary problems. Additionally, it is not only cement dust but also other workplace exposures, such as gases, dusts, fumes and occupational vapors, that can further worsen prior existing medical conditions such as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). So, for workers who have pulmonary problems, the risk of workplace exposure is even more harmful and severe.
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Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Galfand Berger can help answer your questions. If you or any of your loved ones have been in a work-related accident and you’d like to contact a lawyer, we here at Galfand Berger, LLP can help. With offices located in Philadelphia, Reading and Bethlehem, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.