It’s estimated that 80-90% of those diagnosed with COPD are chronic smokers. The amount of smoking and the length of time one has smoked increases the probability that one will develop COPD.
Some of the more dangerous workplace exposures can include types of industrial dust and chemical fumes such as coal mine dust, silica and grain dust, exposure to isocyanates, natural rubber latex, animal dander, and platinum.
Genetics can contribute to COPD, such as alpha-one Antitrypsin Deficiency. The body is not able to make enough of a protein called alpha-1 antitrypsin, which helps to protect the lungs from damage. This usually causes early onset COPD and if the individual smokes, it seriously exacerbates the problem.