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Dust Diseases Information
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an umbrella term for a group of respiratory tract diseases that are characterized by airflow obstruction or limitation. It is usually caused by tobacco smoking but can also be caused by coal dust. The main risk factor in the development of COPD is smoking. Approximately 15% of all chronic smokers will develop the disease. In susceptible people, this causes chronic inflammation of the bronchi and eventual airway obstruction. Other etiologies include alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency (augmented by smoking), byssinosis, and idiopathic disease.
COPD can also be caused by prolonged exposure to certain dusty environments. For example, many people develop COPD after working in the coal mining industry and being exposed to high levels of respirable coal dust. Among people over 70 who have never smoked, women make up 85 percent of those with COPD. This appears to be tied to decreases in estrogen as women age. Female mice that had their ovaries removed to deprive them of estrogen lost 45 percent of their working alveoli from their lungs. Upon receiving estrogen, the mice recovered full lung function. Two proteins that are activated by estrogen play distinct roles in breathing. One protein builds new alveoli, the other stimulates the alveoli to expel carbon dioxide. Loss of estrogen hampered both functions in the test mice. COPD is not curable. Medicines are often used to control symptoms or to reverse acute exacerbations. COPD in all forms typically progresses if the patient continues to smoke. Therefore, smoking cessation is one of the most important factors in slowing down the progression of COPD.
Pneumoconiosis, also known as miner's lung, is a lung condition caused by the inhalation of dust, characterized by formation of nodular fibrotic changes in lungs. Many substances can cause pneumoconiosis including asbestos, silica, talc, kaolinite and other metal compounds.
There are no treatments.
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