June 22, 2017

Occupational Lung Disease Media Statement

From: Lung Foundation Australia CEO, Heather Allan and The Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand CEO, Tanya Buchanan.

In response to the motion put forward in Parliament today for a centralised comprehensive occupational lung disease national register.

Lung Foundation Australia and The Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand welcomed the motion put to the Senate today by the Greens. Included in the motion was a call for a centralised comprehensive occupational lung disease national register. As outlined in a submission lodged by the two peak lung bodies to the Senate enquiry on Coal Workers Pneumoconiosis (Black Lung), the proposed program will address the need for increased community awareness about the risks, symptoms and prevention of occupational lung disease. It will also establish a national register for occupationally acquired lung disease to determine the prevalence in Australia and the industries in which they occur, and allow targeting of prevention activities.

Occupational exposure contributes substantially to the burden of lung disease in Australia. There are many occupations exposing people to elements that are putting them at risk of lung disease. The community is not aware of the many occupations that pose a risk to their lung health, such as nail salons and construction sites.

In Australia, there is extremely limited insight into the causes of occupational lung disease and the industries in which they occur. Occupational lung diseases are largely preventable through actions to avoid or reduce exposure to harmful workplace exposures and conditions. Employers and employees need to be made aware if they are at risk so the proper preventative measures can be put in place.

It is estimated that occupational exposure contributes to 29% of lung cancers in men and 5.3% in women in Australia. Current international estimates indicate that occupational exposure cause 15-20% of asthma in adults and 10-15% of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). COPD affects one in seven Australians over 40 and is a leading cause of death and disease burden after heart disease, stroke and cancer.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Danielle Aami
Senior Manager – Marketing and Communications
Lung Foundation Australia
T: +61 (0)7 3251 3643
E: danielle@lungfoundation.com.au

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