November is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Awareness Month and University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources would like to emphasize the importance of preventing COPD for farmers.

November is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Awareness Month and University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources would like to emphasize the importance of preventing COPD for farmers.

The University of Delaware says the respiratory health of farmers is one of the major health concerns facing the farming population. According to the American Lung Association, 24 million Americans have impaired lung function, which is commonly known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD); the third leading cause of death in the United States.

COPD, also known as emphysema and chronic bronchitis is a lung disease characterized by an obstruction to airflow that interferes with normal breathing, and over time makes it difficult to breath.

Here is a list of strategies in addressing COPD and other respiratory diseases:

Know the respiratory hazards on your farmCommon respiratory hazards on farms include but are not limited to dusts, mold spores, gases such as ammonia in poultry operations, silo and manure gases; pesticides and fumes from welding and hot work.

Know the signs and symptoms of COPDSymptoms include constant coughing, shortness of breath when doing everyday
activities, producing a lot of sputum, wheezing and feeling like you can't breathe or take a deep breath.

Get helpConsult a physician about a spirometry test in order to diagnose the disease as early as possible and begin treatment.

Practice preventionUse ventilation and PPE to protect yourself from the identified respiratory hazards.