The link between asbestos exposure and COPD

On Behalf of | Oct 25, 2023 | asbestos

Most people associate asbestos exposure with medical conditions like mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. What about another serious respiratory condition — chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)? COPD is actually a blanket term for conditions that destroy the tissue of the lungs and makes it difficult for air to flow through the lungs. It can also result from asbestos exposure over a long period.

One 2020 study found that “occupational exposure to insulating materials was associated with non-malignant respiratory illnesses, specifically, recurrent chest infections and COPD.” While asbestos doesn’t cause COPD, people with COPD have weakened lungs that make them more prone to develop other conditions caused by asbestos exposure.

Treatments for COPD include medications that reduce inflammation and antibiotics as well as oxygen therapy. Sometimes surgery is used to remove the diseased portions of the lungs.

Those with a family history of COPD or who smoke (a common cause of the condition) should try to avoid working around substances like silica, beryllium, chromium, carbon dust, and (of course) asbestos. While asbestos isn’t used nearly as much as it was prior to the 1980s, it can certainly be found in older structures as well as vintage vehicles. 

That’s why construction businesses and other employers whose workers could be exposed to asbestos need to provide the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), training and other safeguards. 

Like mesothelioma, there isn’t yet a “cure” for COPD. However, those in the medical community have found ways to help manage it and help people live longer, with a better quality of life. Of course, this can be expensive for patients and families. That’s why if you or a loved one is suffering due to asbestos exposure that could have been prevented, it’s smart to get legal guidance to determine what options you may have for compensation.