The link between COPD and asbestos-related conditions

On Behalf of | May 24, 2024 | Asbestos Exposure & Claims

Most people associate exposure to asbestos with serious medical conditions like mesothelioma and lung cancer. Another serious respiratory condition — chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), is not uncommon in people who have had long-term asbestos exposure. 

Asbestos doesn’t actually cause COPD. However, people who have COPD are more likely to get conditions like mesothelioma if they have also worked with asbestos. One study found that “occupational exposure to insulating materials was associated with …recurrent chest infections and COPD.” 

How COPD weakens the lungs

That’s because COPD destroys lung tissue. This weakens the lungs and makes it hard for air to get through them – and hard to breathe.

That’s why people who smoke (which is a common cause of COPD) or have had relatives with COPD should try to avoid working around asbestos and materials like beryllium, carbon dust, chromium and silica. Of course, many people who develop asbestos-related conditions haven’t been near it or these other materials in years.

Employers are responsible for keeping workers safe

Businesses with employees who need to work around asbestos and other toxic materials must provide them with personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, respirators and special clothing and foot coverings that they have to dispose of correctly. They also need to train employees to avoid breathing or touching anything that could have dangerous particles.

If you or a loved one is suffering from COPD or another condition that has been linked to asbestos, you should get legal guidance to see if those responsible for that exposure can be held liable. That can help you afford to treat or manage the disease as much as possible.


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