1. Bartending and waitressing
2. Housekeeping and cleaning
3. Health care
4. Hair styling
|Construction workers are often exposed|
to chemicals, particles and asbestos.
And the list continues:
Workers who demolish old buildings or do remodeling can be exposed to asbestos used as insulation around pipes or in floor tiles.
Even minimal exposure to its microscopic fibers has been linked to a variety of problems. One is mesothelioma, a form of cancer, Von Essen says.
Exposure also seems to raise the risk of small-cell lung cancer and can lead to asbestosis, or scarring of the lung. Removal should be left to trained and licensed crews.
"Know where the asbestos is," Von Essen says. "Follow all the rules and don't take chances."
Working with crops and animals can lead to several disorders. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis is a rare but serious problem caused by repeated exposures to mold-contaminated grain or hay. The lung's air sacs become inflamed and may develop scar tissue.
Grain in metal bins can get moldy. Breathing dust from this grain can lead to fevers, chills, and a flu-like illness called "organic dust toxic syndrome." Farmers also are more likely to report a cough and chest tightness.
"We think about 30% of farmers who grow crops in this way have had that at some point," Von Essen says. Workers in hog and chicken barns sometimes get an asthma-like syndrome.
"Dust and ammonia levels together seem to be risk factors," she says. Keep grain from getting damp, ensure adequate ventilation, and wear a respirator.
8. Auto Body Spray Painting
People who work in auto body shops are often exposed to chemicals known as isocyanates. They're a significant cause of occupational asthma.
"It's frequently a career-ending disease where they need to leave their profession," Harber says.
|The right protective equipment may|
alleviate some of the risks.
People who battle blazes are exposed not only to the fire, but also to other materials, including burning plastics and chemicals. Firefighters can significantly lower their risk of lung disease and other problems by using a "self-contained breathing apparatus" (SCBA). These devices should also be used during "mop up" or the clean-up period.
"Many of the chemicals are still in the air," Harber says. Ventilation also is critical.
10. Coal Mining
Underground miners are at risk for everything from bronchitis to pneumoconiosis, or "black lung." It's a chronic condition caused by inhaling coal dust that becomes embedded in the lungs, causing them to harden and make breathing very hard.
"This can cause progressive massive fibrosis and can kill people," Von Essen says.
Again, protective equipment can limit the amount of dust inhaled.
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