Objective: To examine occupational risk for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
Methods: We randomly recruited 233 subjects aged 55 to 75 reporting a physician’s diagnosis of COPD, emphysema, or chronic bronchitis. Interviews assessed cigarette smoking and longest held job, identifying exposure to vapors, gas, dust, or fumes (VGDF). Lung function was assessed in n = 138. Comparison data were derived from a sample of referents without COPD.
Results: VGDF was reported in 123 (53%) of 233 cases versus 577 (34%) of 1709 referents. VGDF was associated with COPD (Odds Ratio [OR] 2.5; 95% CI = 1.9 to 3.4); the population attributable fraction was 32%. In the lung function subset, the FEV1/FVC was <70% in 79 (57%); 35 (44%) reported VGDF associated with an OR = 1.6 (95% CI = 0.99 to 2.6) and population attributable fraction 17%.
Conclusions: These data support an important role for occupational exposures in COPD.