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Seven Jobs That Will Make You Sick

5. Firefighters
> Risk: heart attack
> Cause: physical and psychological stress, exposure to toxic elements
> Median annual wage: $45,520

It is not fire or smoke inhalation that is the number one irregular cause of death among firefighters, but heart attacks. When fighting a fire, the chance that a firefighter will have a heart attack increases up to 100 times the normal rate. Even when they aren’t fighting fires, firefighters are at a higher risk of heart attack, a report from Harvard School of Public Health shows. Risk of heart attack is increased for firefighters when they respond to an alarm, return from an incident, or engage in physical activity, including training. The occupation of firefighter, by nature, entails dealing with extreme heat, exposure to toxic substances, and causes high levels of psychological and physiological stress.

6. Coal miners
> Risk: pneumoconiosis
> Cause: coal dust
> Median annual wage: $43,010

Coal miners far and away have the highest mortality rate from pneumoconiosis, or black lung disease, which is cause by long-term exposure to coal dust. According to the National Institutes of Health, one’s “risk of getting coal worker’s pneumoconiosis depends on how long [they] have been around coal dust.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that between 1968 and 2006, coal worker’s pneumoconiosis was the cause of death for 28,912 people aged 25 and older.

7. Welders
> Risk: manganism
> Cause: manganese
> Median annual wage: $35,450

The fumes produced by welding metal often contain small amounts of manganese. Prolonged exposure to these fumes can lead to a “Parkinsonian syndrome” called manganism. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms “may include tremors, slowness of movement, muscle rigidity, and poor balance.” The disease can also occur in those who work around “dry-cell batteries, anti-knock gasoline additives, pesticides, pigments, dyes, inks and incendiary devices.”

Charles Stockdale