Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, machinery

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and respiratory illness is a major cause of death in Australia and is more common in farming communities.

COPD is a long-term disease of the lungs which causes shortness of breath.  COPD is an abbreviated term for conditions including emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic asthma which is irreversible. Even though COPD is irreversible and there is no cure, there are things you can do to breathe easier and improve your quality of life particularly if it is identified and managed early.

Most cases of COPD develop after repeatedly breathing in fumes (usually tobacco smoke) and dust that damage the lungs over a long period of time. Farmers have high rates of COPD despite generally lower rates of smoking, which suggests that on farm exposure to lung irritants such as, organic and inorganic dust, smoke and chemical vapours may play a key role.

To find out more about COPD visit Better Health Channel

References used for this topic page

More information:
Asthma Australia
Australian Lung Foundation
Lung Institute of Western Australia


Centers for Disease Control (US)
Clinical care:
Australian and New Zealand COPD Reference Site

Fast facts:

Chronic obstructive airways disease

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) describes a range of lung conditions like bronchitis and emphysema.
  • COPD is related to smoking. Farmers have a higher rate of COPD than the general population even though rates of smoking are lower among farmers.
  • Wear an appropriate mask when dealing with dust, agricultural chemicals or smoke from fires.
  • Avoid getting infections and have an annual flu vaccination.

Last updated: 24th November, 2016