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Top 10 Jobs that can damage your Lungs

Today we look at the Top 10 Worst jobs for your lungs. If I said construction and mining – you will definitely go, of course! But did you know that there are also hidden hazards in less “dangerous” looking jobs such as baking and even health care?

Here are the 10 Ten Jobs that can seriously damage your lungs, if you do not take precautionary measures to protect them:

Health care

Most doctors and health care professionals need to wear latex gloves in the course of their work. But did you know that a high percentage of health-care workers are actually sensitive to the powder residue found in latex gloves, which can cause a severe asthma-type reaction.  Whilst skipping using protective gloves is not an option, some hospitals use better alternatives such as latex-free synthetic gloves.


During demolitions and renovations, there is a large amount of dust in the air that workers might inhale. Over a prolonged period of time, this poses a risk for lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis, a disease that causes scarring and stiffening of lungs. Wearing protective gear, including a respirator, when working around older buildings and avoiding smoking can help.


Workers who make upholstery, towels, socks, bed linens, and clothes are at a risk of contracting byssinosis, also called brown lung disease. Workers can inhale massive amounts of dust particles released from cotton or other materials. Smoking increases the risk. Wearing a mask and improving ventilation in the work environment can be beneficial.


Inhaling chemicals, dust or dangerous fumes/gases might put workers at risk of COPD. If food manufacturing, a flavouring agent known as diacetyl (used in wines, fast food and even popcorn) can cause bronchiolitis obliterans, a close relative of COPD. Taking precautionary measures can significantly reduce your risk. When you put diacetyl into a giant pot to mix it, put the lid on and wear a filtering mask – this reduces risk of inhalation.


Everybody knows the hazards of second-hand smoke, especially when exposed over many years. Today, many states outlaw smoking in restaurants and bars, which is a good things. Studies show that respiratory health among bartenders in cities with smoking bans has dramatically improved. If you work in a city that still allows smoking in bars, quit!


I would never have guessed that something so mild looking as baking, is responsible for an estimated 15% of new asthma cases in adults, imagine that! An asthmatic reaction to enzymes used to alter the consistency of dough, as well as allergens shed by bugs, such as beetles, moths, and weevils, often found in flour, is common as well. Good ventilation and the use of a protective mask can help prevent illness.

Automotive industry

Auto-body repair and auto spray-on paints workshops have the highest concentration of allergens in the air. Occupational asthma can be caused by the isocyanate and polyurethane products used that can irritate skin, create allergies, cause chest tightness and severe breathing trouble. Respirators, gloves, goggles, and ventilation can help.


In transportation, diesel exhaust is the biggest factor. A 2004 study found a link between higher lung cancer death rates among U.S. railroad workers after the industry switched from coal to diesel-power in the 1950s. Although engines now emit less diesel exhaust due to improvements and use cleaner-burning diesel fuel, diesel exhaust is still widespread.


Firefighters can inhale smoke and a wide range of chemicals that may be present in a burning building. Exposure to toxic materials and asbestos is a risk even after the fire is out. One should always wear respiratory protective equipment at all stages of firefighting.


Airborne silica, also known as quartz, can lead to silicosis, a disease that scars lungs. Coal miners are at risk for another type of lung-scarring disease called pneumoconiosis (black lung). Years of exposure to coal dust is the culprit.

 I think it is fair advice that if one works in these conditions day in day out, it is only a matter of time, before your lungs feel the worse for it. Common sense will tell you that working in an environment with good ventilation and the use of a protective mask is essential and can help prevent illness. Smoking is definitely a no-no and the sooner one quits the better!

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One Response to Top 10 Jobs that can damage your Lungs

  1. Selba May 10, 2012 at 7:32 am #

    I was also quite surprised when last time, I heard that baking could damage the lungs, and actually not only lungs but also skin and eyes because of the heat.

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