Risk FactorsRisk Factors for COPD (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs315/en/; http://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/copd/ ; CDC COPD indicator template)
- Tobacco smoking (either active or secondhand/passive exposure)
- Indoor air pollution (such as biomass or solid fuel used for cooking and heating)
- Outdoor air pollution
- Occupational dusts and chemicals (such as vapors, irritants, and fumes)
- Frequent lower respiratory infections during childhood
- Genetics (Alpha-1 deficiency).
Cigarette smoking (including secondhand or passive exposure) is the leading cause of COPD. Most people who have COPD smoke or used to smoke (about 85-90 percent of all COPD cases are caused by cigarette smoking http://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/copd/).
Long-term exposure to other lung irritants, such as air pollution, chemical fumes, or dust also may contribute to COPD.
Exposure to air pollution (both indoor and outdoor) has been linked to increases in COPD-related morbidity. Indoor exposures are predominantly from second-hand tobacco smoke and the use of biomass or solid fuels, while the most common non-occupational outdoor exposures are to particulate matter (PM10 & PM2.5), ozone, and sulfur dioxide from automobiles and industrial sources.
Occupational exposures such as to fumes, gases, and both inorganic and organic dusts have been associated with COPD. About 19 percent of all COPD cases were attributable to occupational exposure with 31 percent in non-smokers. Alpha-1 deficiency is a genetic (inherited) condition that causes a rare form of COPD called alpha-1 deficiency-related emphysema in some people. This condition affects the body's ability to produce a protein (Apha-1), which protects the lungs.