Study Shows That Workers Exposed to Pesticides May Be More Likely To Develop COPD

A recent study conducted in Australia has provided evidence that workers that are exposed to either pesticides or herbicides may be more likely to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Information About the COPD Study

Reuters reported that the researchers have evidence to support that workers are more likely to develop or aggravate breathing disorders if they work with either pesticides or herbicides during their lifetime.

It was shown that, if a worker was exposed to any sort of herbicide, that they would double their likelihood of developing COPD by middle age. The average age for the participants was 45 years old, with a quarter of them being current smokers.

The study showed that around 6 percent of the workers followed in the study suffered from COPD, and that over 28 percent had asthma or previously had signs of asthma during their lives.

Close to 65 million people worldwide suffer from COPD in varying levels of severity, and the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes it as the cause of 5 percent of deaths. While smoking often contributes to the worsening of the condition, other causes include working or cooking near toxic substances, as well as frequent childhood respiratory infections.

Dr. Steve Georas, an environmental health researcher at the University of Rochester in New York, stated that not enough was known about the “extent of exposure needed to cause changes in lung function”.

Dr. Georas went on to say that even a single exposure to a toxic substance, such as the pesticides, may “cause long lasting changes in airway function”.

Symptoms of COPD

Chronic bronchitis is generally marked daily cough and mucus (sputum) production at least three months a year for two consecutive years. Other signs of COPD include:

  • Shortness of breath, especially during physical activities
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Having to clear your throat first thing in the morning, due to excess mucus in your lungs
  • A chronic cough that may produce mucus (sputum) that may be clear, white, yellow or greenish
  • Blueness of the lips or fingernail beds (cyanosis)
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Lack of energy
  • Unintended weight loss (in later stages)
  • Swelling in ankles, feet or legs
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