November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month - a national campaign designed to focus attention on lung cancer issues. Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer-related death, claiming 1.3 million lives every year. Non-smokers account for up to 15% of U.S. lung cancer cases, and exposure to secondhand smoke accounts for approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths annually, according to the National Cancer Institute.
But commonly used chemicals also contribute to lung cancer and other respiratory illness. The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that respiratory conditions account for nearly 10% of all reported workplace injuries and illnesses. For example, exposure to hexavalent chromium increases the risk for lung cancer, and was the topic of a new OSHA rule earlier this year.
Respiratory protection continues to be a hot safety topic with OSHA, NIOSH and others as new protective gear is developed and the long-term effects of various substances are questioned. Use these links to learn more about respiratory health and protection in the workplace: