Working together, researchers from local and international universities have looked examined the relationship between cumulative workplace exposure to a wide range of substances and lung function decline.
They say their findings highlight the key role that regular workplace testing plays in limiting exposures and detecting diseases at an early stage.
Researchers from Australia’s Monash, Melbourne and Federation Universities extracted longitudinal studies evaluating lung function decline from exposure to gases, fumes, vapours, dusts, aromatic solvents, fungicides and insecticides using multiple data bases.
12 major studies were analysed covering thousands of participants with follow-up periods ranging from four to 25 years, with researchers finding a clear association between lung function decline and cumulative exposures to gases, fumes, vapours, dusts, aromatic solvents, biological dust, fungicides and insecticides.
They say that while lung function declines naturally with age, accelerated decline places a major burden on health systems through the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the world's fourth leading cause of death and projected to be the third by 2030.
They note there have been numerous previous studies on substance exposure and lung decline, but many of these focused only on one industry or group of workers.
They say the results of their study show specific exposure controls are vital.
"Periodic workplace health surveillance and lung function testing in exposed occupations will help to identify respiratory disease at an early stage to control the exposure and to protect against further disease progression," the researchers say.
Source: OHSAlert, 28 October 2022