Workers should never have to worry that the air they breathe on the job will slowly destroy their lungs. Yet in too many cases, that risk is still all too real at U.S. workplaces.
Occupational lung disease is slow, debilitating and lethal. A construction worker, stone cutter, foundry worker or coal miner inhales tiny bits of dust that penetrate the lungs and slowly causes them to scar over. It may be decades before health problems develop, from shortness of breath to dependency on oxygen tanks. After a lifetime of hard work, instead of a comfortable retirement, so many workers confront a grim reality: although occupational lung diseases are preventable, they are often incurable.
During Lung Cancer Awareness Month in November, we recognize that lung health is a workers’ issue − and that diseases like silicosis, pneumoconiosis (black lung), chronic beryllium disease and lung cancer still devastate the lives of too many workers and their families every year.