Lung diseases due to gas or chemical exposure are conditions that can be acquired from indoor and outdoor air pollution and from ingesting tobacco smoke. The lungs are susceptible to many airborne poisons and irritants. Mucus present in the airways blocks foreign particles of a certain size, however it is unable to filter all airborne particulates. There are hundreds of substances that can pollute air and harm lungs.
Harmful gases and chemicals are just one type of airborne pollutant that can adversely affect the lungs. There are many organic dusts that irritate the lungs. Most of them occur on the job and cause occupational lung disease. Grain dust causes silo filler's disease. Cotton and other textile dusts cause byssinosis. Mold spores in hay cause farmer's lung
Lung disease generates three major symptoms--coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. It also predisposes the lungs to infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Cancer is a late effect, requiring prolonged exposure to an irritant. In the case of tobacco, an average of a pack of cigarettes a day for forty years, or two packs a day for twenty years, will greatly increase the risk of lung cancer.
Eliminating the offending irritant and early antibiotics for infection are primary. There are many techniques available to remove excess mucus from the lungs. Respiratory therapists are trained in these methods. Finally, there are several machines available to enrich the oxygen content of breathed air.