Some New Jersey workers expose themselves to dangerous substances that could affect their lung health every time they perform their job duties. Other workers potentially expose themselves, but they are equipped with the necessary safety procedures and equipment to prevent harm to their respiratory tracts. This article will look at the six most common types of occupational lung disease that workers and employers must do everything they can to prevent.

Asbestosis: This happens when a worker — usually a construction worker — breaths asbestos fibers into his or her lungs. With continued exposure over a period of years, lung tissues stiffen due to permanent scar tissue forming in the lungs.

Black lung: Also referred to as coal worker’s pneumoconiosis, this disease results from the continual inhalation of coal dust. This results in lung scarring, inflammation and permanent shortness of breath.

Silicosis: This relates to airborne crystalline silica dust at foundries, mines and manufacturing facilities that work with stone, clay and glass. It also causes scar tissue to form in lungs and can lead to a host of lung diseases.

Byssinosis: Is a lung disease stemming from the inhalation of flax, cotton and hemp dust. Another name for it is Brown Lung Disease, and it results in chronic shortness and tightening of the breath. Most people who have this worked in the textile industry processing cotton.

Hypersensitivity pneumonitis: This is an autoimmune related lung disease induced by the inhalation of different substances like bacteria, plant proteins, animal products, fungal spores or chemicals. It causes lung inflammation and fibrous scarring making it more difficult to breath.

Occupational asthma: This happens after breathing in different types of dust, gases, vapors and fumes. A common symptom is chronic cough, wheezing and asthma-like symptoms.

New Jersey workers who are diagnosed with the above conditions may have the ability to seek workers’ compensation benefits. Consulting with an experienced employee benefits attorney is a great place to start investigating whether workers’ compensation could be pursued in a given case.

Source: University of Rochester Medical Center, “Occupational Lung Diseases,” accessed Oct. 20, 2016