The global burden of non-malignant respiratory disease due to occupational airborne exposures

Am J Ind Med. 2005 Dec;48(6):432-45. doi: 10.1002/ajim.20210.


Background: Occupational non-malignant respiratory disease arises from exposure of workers to airborne agents, mostly particulate or dusts. We describe the worldwide mortality and morbidity from asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and pneumoconioses arising from these occupational exposure and focus on cases reported in the year 2000.

Methods: The proportions of workers exposed to the agents, and their levels of exposure, were estimated using workforce data and the CAREX (CARcinogen EXposure) database. These were combined with relative risk measures (for asthma and COPD) or absolute risk measures (for the pneumoconioses) to develop estimates of deaths, disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) and attributable fraction (for asthma and COPD).

Results: There were an estimated 386,000 deaths (asthma: 38,000; COPD: 318,000; pneumoconioses: 30,000) and nearly 6.6 million DALYS (asthma: 1,621,000; COPD: 3,733,000, pneumoconioses: 1,288,000) due to exposure to occupational airborne particulates.

Conclusions: Occupational airborne particulates are an important cause of death and disability worldwide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Global Health*
  • Humans
  • Inhalation Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Lung Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Lung Diseases / etiology
  • Lung Diseases / mortality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Risk
  • Risk Factors