Preventing occupational lung and respiratory diseases is the most significant way to reduce the number of deaths from these illnesses. The most effective way to prevent these diseases is to avoid inhaling the substances that cause them. Limiting or eliminating exposure to these irritants is the only way to decrease their effects on the body. Some preventive measures recommended by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) include:
- Wear protective gear such as facemasks, respirators, or other garments that will prevent inhalation of dangerous airborne particles.
- Follow specific government guidelines in removal or repair of
dangerous substances such asbestos.
- Do not smoke cigarettes as the use of tobacco can increase
the risk of developing lung and respiratory disease.
- Make routine visits to your physician to have lung function evaluated
- Become familiar with any dangerous substances that may be present in the workplace and know the risks associated with them.
The lungs and the tissue leading to them are the body’s first organs to come into contact with outside air. The lungs are susceptible to many irritants due to the constant breathing in and out. The particles in the air can cause damage and leave individuals permanently disable and sometimes lead to death. The diseases caused by these particles are almost entirely preventable. Using the measures listed above as well as following workplace guidelines may help worker’s avoid these life-changing diseases.
Government agencies also help in the prevention of occupational disease by posing regulations on workplace safety. In 1970 the government established laws that created two national health agencies. The first, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), was formed to oversee and research safety in workplace activities. This agency was established within the U.S. department of Health and Human Services. The second agency was established within the U.S. Department of Labor. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was designed to set government standards for health and safety in the workplace and also enforce these standards.
NIOSH has created the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) which is a comprehensive list of areas that address workplace dangers. This agenda explores toxicology, identifies emerging technology dangers and evaluates how the combinations of substances in the workplace may effect workers. The reports garnered from this research may help to provide insight into new and dangerous substance as they arise.
Occupational irritants are found worldwide and the knowledge of their danger has helped to decrease the occurrence of disease in many industrialized nations. These developed countries such as the United States have begun major prevention programs. Unfortunately, less developed nations are just beginning to see the effects of imported, dangerous materials. It is the hope of world organizations such as the World Health Organization and the International Labor Office to begin prevention programs worldwide to help stop these diseases.