Dr. Megan Johnson McCullough – What we breathe in daily can catch up to our lungs later Certain occupations can expose our bodies, particularly our lungs, to substances that could be harmful to our health. Working in such conditions poses the risk due to ongoing exposure for long periods of time as well as the repeated presence of being in the environment. Some jobs are admirable to help people and putting the risk of your health aside to do so. Individuals vary in how this exposure can affect their health, but there’s a gray area of what could happen years and years later. Hare are some of those jobs that could put a person’s health at risk:
- Firefighting – Although the breathing mask is protective, firefighters are still put into
direct contact with smoke and chemicals coming from burning structures. They also don’t
always have masks on at all times because they have to see through debris to find people
and items. Breathing asbestos is another possibility.
- Miner – It is no secret this job highly increases the risk for lung disease. There’s also the
possibility of developing pneumoconiosis which is scarring of the lungs from exposure to
coal dust or silica. Developing COPD is another risk.
- Medicine related – It might seem odd, but wearing latex all the time can be problematic.
Every time these gloves are taken off tiny particles of latex are released into the air. These
are then inhaled. About 10% of healthcare workers have a sensitivity to latex.
- Cleaning – Many disinfectants can lead to asthma, especially when spaces are not
ventilated while cleaning.
- Automotive repair – People in this industry are exposed to spray-on paints that have
isocyanate and polyurethane. These can cause allergies and create trouble breathing such
as chest tightness.
- Truck Driver – Diesel exhaust is inhaled regularly which can lead to COPD.
- Hairstylist – There is exposure to fumes and chemicals from the dyes and products that
can cause respiratory problems.
- Nail manicurists and pedicurists – There is constant exposure to chemicals and fumes
from the products as well as vapors, dusts, and mist in the air. There are many respiratory
issues that can happen from this and the day in and day out breathing of it.
- Farming/Agricultural – Chemicals to preserve the crops are sprayed and inhaled by those
who pick them and care for them. It is possible to develop Farmer’s Lung which is
caused by mold spores and bacteria in crops.
- Construction – Workers are exposed to wood dust, silica, Asbestos, Formaldehyde, Di-
isocyanates, and flame retardants. These all pose risks to harming the lungs.
Work is part of life and although making a living is necessary, sometimes what we do for work
can catch up to us later. The years of retirement become marked by health issues that surfaced
from all those years of exposure. The lungs are a critical part of our everyday breathing and
quality of life. Be wise about wearing protective gear as much as possible, making sure there is
ventilation, and stepping our for fresh air when you can.