A new study published in the European Respiratory Journal has identified the occupations that are linked with the highest risk for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These include jobs in the manufacturing and agriculture sectors, along with industrial technician roles.
Researchers investigated the occupational risk for COPD in 94,551 individuals enrolled in the UK Biobank cohort using the information on job histories and lung function data. Spirometry measurements were used to assess COPD.
The findings showed that working in certain occupations was associated with a significant risk of developing COPD. The jobs with the highest risk included:
- Sculpting, painting, engraving and art restoration;
- Gardening, groundskeeping and park-keeping;
- Food, drink and tobacco processing;
- Plastics processing and moulding;
- Agriculture and fishing;
- Warehouse stock handling and stacking.
The elevated risk for COPD in these populations remained even after adjusting for potential confounders such as smoking and asthma. According to the authors, patients with COPD, particularly never-smokers should be enquired about their job history to improve disease management and develop prevention strategies in high-risk COPD occupations.