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Breathing in secondhand smoke, air pollution, and chemical fumes or dust from the environment or workplace also can contribute to COPD. (Secondhand smoke is smoke in the air from other people smoking.)
People who have this condition have low levels of alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT)—a protein made in the liver.
Having a low level of the AAT protein can lead to lung damage and COPD if one is exposed to smoke or other lung irritants.