Construction workers have a higher risk of developing lung disease than the general population because they may inhale certain dangerous substances while on the job, according to Mesothelioma.us. Examples of substances known to cause lung disease are crystalline silica dust and asbestos, which construction workers are often exposed to.
Crystalline silica dust often comes from quartz (sand), which is found in concrete and many types of rocks, which are materials that many construction workers use on a regular basis. Inhalation of crystalline silica dust can cause the lung disease silicosis, which can cause swelling in the lungs and difficulty breathing due to scarring (fibrosis), states MedlinePlus. To avoid exposure, construction workers who encounter this substance should wear protective equipment, such as a respirator.
Asbestos is a material commonly used in construction that contains microscopic fibers, which can become trapped in the lungs if inhaled, notes WebMD. Inhalation of asbestos can lead to asbestosis, mesothelioma and other lung diseases. Asbestosis is an inflammatory condition that causes scarring in the lungs, which makes breathing difficult. Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that causes shortness of breath and chest pain. Most patients diagnosed with mesothelioma eventually die from respiratory failure or pneumonia.