COPD causes and Risk factors
COPD can also occur in those who have had long-term contact with harmful pollutants in the workplace. Some of these harmful lung irritants include certain chemicals, dust, or fumes. Heavy or long-term contact with secondhand smoke or other lung irritants in the home, such as organic cooking fuel, may also cause this disorder.
Even if an individual has never smoked or been exposed to pollutants for an extended period of time, they can still develop this disorder. Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (AATD) is the most commonly known genetic risk factor for emphysema2. Alpha-1 Antitrypsin related this disorder is caused by a deficiency of the Alpha-1 Antitrypsin protein in the bloodstream. Without the Alpha-1 Antitrypsin protein, white blood cells begin to harm the lungs and lung deterioration occurs. Because not all individuals with this disorder have AATD, and because some individuals with this disorder have never smoked, it is believed that there are other genetic predispositions to developing this disorder. Read about the this disorder GENE™ STUDY to learn about research to find other genetic copd causes.
In about 1 percent of people with COPD, the disease results from a genetic disorder that causes low levels of a protein called alpha-1 antitrypsin. Alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAt) is made in the liver and secreted into the bloodstream to help protect the lungs. Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency can affect the liver as well as the lungs. Damage to the liver can occur in infants and children, not just adults with long smoking histories.