Occupational diseases are illnesses that are associated with a particular occupational or industry and result from hazards in the workplace. They are entirely preventable if hazards in the workplace are eliminated or controlled. Many occupational diseases are unique to the hazards encountered in certain workplaces and do not, or rarely, exist apart from workers. Silicosis, for example, simply does not occur unless the patient has been exposed to silica dust and this almost never occurs except in the workplace. Other occupational diseases are familiar diseases, seen in the general population, that have an occupational cause in the particular case. For example, occupational lung cancer is identical to lung cancer from smoking but may be caused by many occupational exposures, including asbestos, arsenic and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Occupational skin disorders can be broadly divided into three groups: dermatitis, skin damage, and skin cancers. Occupational lung diseases are also varied. They include occupational asthma, airway irritation, toxic inhalation, infections, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, fume fevers, pneumoconiosis, and cancer. Noise-induced hearing loss is a form of progressive deafness caused by exposure to noise. Reproductive disorders include many causes of infertility, most of which affect men more than women. Because of concern for the fetus, pregnant women should be protected from many physical and chemical exposures but are generally otherwise able to do what work they have been doing until late in the pregnancy.
Keywords: occupational disease, occupational cancer, lung disease, dermatitis, skin cancers, occupational asthma, toxic inhalation, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, pneumoconiosis, silicosis, hearing loss, reproductive disorders
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