December 15, 2022

Study Describes COPD Mortality by Industry and Occupation

NIOSH researchers have published a report that describes mortality rates in 2020 for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, by industry and occupation. The mining and food service industries had the highest proportionate mortality ratios (PMR) for COPD, a lung disease that causes long-term respiratory symptoms and airflow limitation and which ranks as the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States in 2020. The study was published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

NIOSH researchers analyzed fatality data for more than 3 million people 15 years of age and older from 46 states and New York City. Ten percent of the decedents had COPD listed on their death certificate. To determine the PMR, researchers divided the actual number of deaths from COPD in specific industries and occupations by the expected number of deaths from COPD. In 10 of 23 industries and 11 of 26 occupations, the PMR was “significantly elevated,” the report explains. The mining and food services industries had PMRs of 1.33 and 1.28, respectively. The construction industry had the third highest PMR at 1.23.

Among occupations, the highest PMRs were for food preparation and serving-related workers (1.30), healthcare support workers (1.29), and construction and extraction workers (1.29).

While smoking is a risk factor for COPD, one in four workers with COPD have never smoked, according to published studies. Workplace exposures that increase the risk of COPD include dust, fumes, gases, vapors, and secondhand smoke.

Read the report on the CDC website.