Work-related COPD after years of occupational exposure

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Background: Cigarette smoking is known as the most important risk factor of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, occupational exposure to other substances can result in COPD. Case report: A 76-year-old man with occupational exposures to mixtures of silica dust, gas, and fumes for 10 years and with a 25 pack-year smoking history was diagnosed with COPD. His computed tomogram scan revealed some hyperinflation with emphysematous change in both upper lobes. In the pulmonary function tests, his post-bronchodilator forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), and FEV1/FVC% were 2.20 L (67% of the predicted value), 1.12 L (52% of the predicted value), and 51%, respectively, indicating moderate COPD. This case of COPD was confirmed as a work-related disease by the Occupational Lung Disease Research Institute in Korea Workers' Compensation & Welfare Service. Conclusion: Exposure to various substances such as silica dust, gas, and fumes from furnace and boiler installation was likely the cause of COPD in this patient. Thus, occupational exposure should be considered an important risk factor of COPD.




Cho, Y. M., Lee, J., Choi, M., Choi, W. S., Myong, J. P., Kim, H. R., & Koo, J. W. (2015). Work-related COPD after years of occupational exposure. Annals of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 27(1).

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