Certain lung diseases have a well-documented connection to certain professions. Black lung, for instance, almost exclusively impacts coal miners. Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos, and many who develop the disease were exposed at work.

In recent decades, research has shown a connection between workplace exposure and the development of other, non-cancerous lung diseases. This is according to a statement released by the American Thoracic Society in cooperation with a similar European agency.

According to the statement, more than 10 percent of people will develop lung diseases as a result of exposure to dust, fumes, gas or vapors – most often in an occupational context. Some of the most common diseases include:

  • Sarcoidosis and similar conditions (30 percent)
  • Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (26 percent)
  • Asthma (16 percent)
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (14 percent)
  • Chronic bronchitis (13 percent)

Understanding the risk between workplace exposure and non-cancerous lung diseases is important for numerous reasons. First of all, recognizing the hazard is the first step in mitigating the risk. Companies need to control for conditions that could harm their employees’ lungs.

Second, workers need to understand that certain diseases and medical conditions may be work-related and not just a product of aging or lifestyle factors. As such, they may be entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

If you have developed a cancerous or non-cancerous lung disease and work in an environment with air quality issues, there may be a connection. Please discuss your rights and options with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in your area.