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Bronchitis is inflammation of the bronchi (air passages of the lungs consisting of muscle tissue lined with mucous membranes). Chronic bronchitis is defined by the presence of a mucus-producing cough most days of the month, three months of a year for two successive years without other underlying disease to explain the cough.
Bronchitis can be acute or chronic. Acute bronchitis is a short-term condition that usually resolves itself and is not uncommon after a cold or single exposure to a respiratory irritant.
Chronic bronchitis is one of three forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the other two being emphysema and and certain forms of asthma.
Chronic bronchitis is usually associated with smoking. Certain occupations that involve irritating dust or fumes put workers at higher risk. The American Lung Association lists coal miners, grain handlers, metal molders, and other workers exposed to dust as being at a higher risk for chronic bronchitis. Workers in such professions should use appropriate protective measures such as respirators and they should avoid tobacco smoke.
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Bronchitis almost always appears in Section 11 (toxicological information) of a Safety Data Sheet as a symptom of inhalation or in reference to a substance that can aggravate pre-existing bronchitis. When working with respiratory irritants, you should always use administrative and engineering controls to reduce workplace risk. If those measures are insufficient, then all potentially exposed worker should also use respirators.
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Industrial bronchitis can be caused by materials that occur as fine respirable particles or dusts such as coal, cotton, silica, and talc. Fibers such as cotton and asbestos are also irritating to the bronchi. Certain organic chemicals can also cause bronchitis.
See also: asthma, emphysema, respiratory
Additional definitions from Google and OneLook.
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