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These industries put workers at risk for respiratory problems

Millions of workers in numerous industries breathe in harmful substances every day in their job. Without the proper safety measures, exposure to certain materials can lead to serious lung and airway problems. Known as “occupational respiratory conditions” or work-related “airway diseases,” these conditions can severely impact someone’s quality of life or even result in death.

Workers in the following industries are at especially high risk of occupational respiratory conditions:

Textile manufacturing

Workers in textile manufacturing, especially those who work with unprocessed cotton, are at risk of developing byssinosis. This condition presents similar symptoms to asthma and can cause permanent obstructive lung damage.

Coal mining

Inhaling coal dust often leads to shortness of breath and long-term lung damage known as black lung disease or coal worker’s pneumoconiosis. This type of lung condition usually takes years to develop. However, severe cases can lead to significant lung damage or even death.


The biggest concern for construction workers is asbestos exposure. Anyone working in older buildings or demolition is at risk of inhaling asbestos fibers, which can cause lung scarring known as asbestosis.


Working in agriculture increases the risk of allergic lung diseases like hypersensitivity pneumonitis, which causes inflammation, fibrous scar tissue, and trouble breathing. This condition is caused by breathing in organic substances like fungus spores and bacteria.

Workers in these industries should see a doctor if they begin to exhibit symptoms related to lung diseases, such as shortness of breath or chest tightness. Consulting with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you determine whether your lung condition qualifies for coverage by your employer’s insurance company. 

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