17th November 2021

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a preventable and treatable disease that causes breathlessness, chronic sputum production and cough, and there are 300 million current cases of COPD across the world. COPD is currently the 3rd leading cause of death globally and is highly prevalent in low resource countries.1

The leading preventable cause of COPD is smoking, and prevention efforts are focused on minimising this exposure. Controlling exposure to other harmful agents can also help reduce the number of COPD cases. Other causes of COPD include occupational exposure to particles and gasses, contributing an estimated 14% of all cases, and 31% of cases occur among people who have never smoked.2

Workplace agents associated with COPD include2:

• mineral dusts - e.g., coal mine dust, silica, asbestos

• organic dusts - e.g., from cotton, wood, grains

• metal/welding fumes - e.g., cadmium

• diesel/engine exhaust fumes

• asphalt/tar fumes or vapours in road and roofing operations

• smoke from fires

• other chemical gases or vapours

Minimising exposure to these work-related COPD agents can help prevent the onset of new cases and the worsening of existing cases.

Wednesday 17 November 2021 is World COPD Day which aims to raise awareness of COPD and make sure that everyone with COPD, or who may have COPD, has access to the care and information that they need to manage their condition well.

This year’s theme, “Healthy Lungs - Never More important” looks to emphasise that the burden of COPD has not gone away, even during COVID. COPD remains a leading cause of death worldwide. This campaign aims to promote lung health by highlighting the importance of staying active, keeping appointments with providers, reducing exposures, maintaining good nutrition, and taking medications correctly.

Discover more about COPD by visiting https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/copd/world-copd-day 

To find out more about World COPD Day visit https://goldcopd.org/world-copd-day/ 

1. Thoracic.org. 2021. Living Well with COPD – Everybody, Everywhere: The Forum of International Respiratory Societies. [online] Available at: <https://www.thoracic.org/about/newsroom/press-releases/journal/2020/living-well-with-copd-everybody-everywhere-firs.php> [Accessed 15 November 2021]
2. Cdc.gov. 2021. World COPD Day - November 18th | NIOSH | CDC. [online] Available at: <https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/newsroom/feature/WorldCOPD-Day11-18.html> [Accessed 15 November 2021].