2014-03-01 12:00 - Messages

Outbreak of silicosis in Spanish quartz conglomerate workers

Objectives: To describe the epidemiological and clinical characteristics of an outbreak of occupational silicosis and the associated working conditions.
Methods: Cases were defined as men working in the stone cutting, shaping, and finishing industry in the province of Cádiz, diagnosed with silicosis between July 2009 and May 2012, and were identified and diagnosed by the department of pulmonology of the University Hospital of Puerto Real (Cádiz). A census of workplaces using quartz conglomerates was carried out to determine total numbers of potentially exposed workers. A patient telephone survey on occupational exposures and a review of medical records for all participants were conducted.
Results: Silicosis was diagnosed in 46 men with a median age of 33 years and a median of 11 years working in the manufacturing of countertops. Of these cases, 91·3% were diagnosed with simple chronic silicosis, with an abnormal high-resolution computerized tomography (HRCT) scan. One patient died during the study period. Employer non-compliance in prevention and control measures was frequently reported, as were environmental and individual protection failures.
Conclusions: The use of new construction materials such as quartz conglomerates has increased silicosis incidence due to intensive occupational exposures, in the context of high demand fuelled by the housing boom. This widespread exposure poses a risk if appropriate preventive measures are not undertaken.

Source: Aránzazu Pérez-Alonso, Juan Antonio Córdoba-Doña, José Luis Millares-Lorenzo, Estrella Figueroa-Murillo, Cristina García-Vadillo, José Romero-Morillo. International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health. Volume 20 Issue 1 (January-March 2014), pp. 26-32.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/2049396713Y.0000000049
 

Exposure to Lead in Great Britain 2014

There was an overall reduction in the number of British workers under medical surveillance for work with lead over the past decade. Women have consistently accounted for a small proportion of the total under surveillance, and the number of young people (under 18 years) under surveillance remains low.
The most recent medical surveillance data show:
- The total number of workers under medical surveillance fell by 47% from 7949 in 2011/12 to 4240 in 2012/13
- The industry sector with the highest number of males under surveillance was the lead battery manufacture sector, with numbers similar to previous years
- There were substantial reductions in the number of males under surveillance in a number of other sectors, including the smelting, refining, alloying and casting industry
- In 2012/13, 3 males had blood-lead levels of 60µg/100ml or above compared with 142 males in 2002/03
- There was a large increase in the number of females in the potteries, glazes and transfers sector, which in previous years had very low numbers under surveillance
- In 2012/13, 4 females had blood-lead levels of 30µg/100ml or above compared with 18 females in 2002/03
- There were 8 suspensions (4 males and 4 females) due to excess blood-lead levels in workers under surveillance in 2012/13

Source: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/lead/index.htm

Occupational Risk Factors for Chronic Respiratory Disease in a New Zealand Population Using Lifetime Occupational History

Objectives: To investigate associations between respiratory disease and occupational exposures in a New Zealand urban population, the Wellington Respiratory Survey.
Methods: Multiple regression analyses in a population sample of 1017 individuals aged 25 to 74 years with spirometry and questionnaire information, including a lifetime occupational history.
Results: Chronic bronchitis symptoms were associated with self-reported exposure to hairdressing, paint manufacturing, insecticides, welding, detergents and with ALOHA Job Exposure Matrix–assessed gases/fumes exposure. The strongest association was for hairdressing (odds ratio 6.91; 95% confidence interval: 2.02 to 23.70). Cumulative exposure to mineral dust and gases/fumes was associated with higher FEV1% (forced expiratory volume in the first second of expiration) predicted. Analyses were limited by relatively small numbers of cases.
Conclusions: Increased risks of objectively defined respiratory disease, which have been previously documented, were not seen. Nevertheless, the study suggested increased risk of respiratory symptoms with various occupational exposures as well as likely healthy worker effect.

Source: Hansell, Anna MB, BChir, PhD; Ghosh, Rebecca E. PhD; Poole, Suzanne MBChB, MD; Zock, Jan-Paul PhD; Weatherall, Mark MBChB, BA, MApplStats; Vermeulen, Roel PhD; Kromhout, Hans PhD; Travers, Justin MBChB; Beasley, Richard MBChB, DSc. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: March 2014 - Volume 56 - Issue 3 - p 270–280.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/01.jom.0000438382.33221.dc

Silica Hazards from Engineered Stone Countertops

A new engineered stone countertop product known as “quartz surfacing,” was created in the late 1980s by combining quartz aggregate with resins to create a product for use in home building and home improvement.  Manufacturing of this material, including products such as CaesarStone™, Silestone™, Zodiaq™, or Cambria™ is a fast growing industry.  First made in Israel and Spain, production of these materials has grown world-wide, driving quartz slab imports to the U.S. up 63% between 2011 and 2012 and 48% between April 2012 and April 2013 (Schwartzkopf 2013, StatWatch 2013).  Quartz surfacing materials may contain up to 93% crystalline silica (Dupont 2010).  In contrast, the percent of crystalline silica in a slab of granite is less than 45%, darker color granite has a lower percentage (Simcox et al. 1999).  Workers who fabricate and install quartz surfacing are at risk for overexposure to silica released during sizing, cutting, grinding and polishing.  Prolonged inhalation of dust from silica-containing materials can lead to silicosis (scarring of the lungs).  In addition to silicosis, scientific evidence indicates that occupational exposure to crystalline silica puts workers at increased risk for  other serious health conditions: chronic obstructive lung disease, lung cancer, kidney and connective tissue disease, and tuberculosis.  The focus of this blog is on silicosis, which has occurred in multiple workers in this industry.

Source: http://blogs.cdc.gov/niosh-science-blog/2014/03/11/countertops/

Factors Associated With Heat Strain Among Workers at an Aluminum Smelter in Texas

Objectives: To determine the prevalence of heat strain and factors associated with heat strain among workers at an aluminum smelter in Texas.
Methods: Continuous core body temperature (Tc), heart rate, and pre- and postshift serum electrolytes, and urine specific gravity were measured, and symptom questionnaires were administered.
Results: Most participants (54%) had 1 or more signs of heat strain. Unacclimatized participants were significantly more likely to exceed the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists–recommended Tc than acclimatized participants (88% vs 20%; P < 0.01). Participants who exceeded the Tc for their acclimatization status and/or exceeded the recommended sustained peak HR had a significantly lower body mass index than those who did not (27.6 vs 31.8 and 28.4 vs 32.4, respectively; P = 0.01).
Conclusions: Employees and management need to strictly adhere to a heat stress management program to minimize heat stress and strain.

Source: Dang, Bich N. MD; Dowell, Chad H. MS, CIH. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: March 2014 - Volume 56 - Issue 3 - p 313–318.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/JOM.0000000000000095

 

International Conference on Monitoring and Surveillance of Asbestos-Related Diseases

11-13 February 2014, Finland
During the conference six keynote lectures were given. Furthermore 36 oral free communications and 20 poster presentations was presented in the parallel sessions.

Source: http://www.ttl.fi/en/international/conferences/helsinki_asbestos_2014/Pages/default.aspx

Occupational Exposure to Cyclophosphamide in Nurses at a Single Center

Objective: To evaluate biological and environmental exposure to cyclophosphamide in nurses at a single institution.
Methods: Biological exposure to cyclophosphamide in nurses administering cyclophosphamide compared with two control groups: nononcology nurses not administering cyclophosphamide and community members without recent hospital exposure. Environmental exposure to chemotherapy was measured using surface wipes taken from oncology and nononcology areas in the hospital.
Results: More than one third of all nurses and no community controls tested positive for urinary cyclophosphamide. Oncology and nurse controls tested positive in equal numbers. Surface wipes were positive only in the oncology ward.
Conclusion: We have demonstrated elevated levels of cyclophosphamide in one third of all nurses and cyclophosphamide contamination of surfaces within the oncology patient environment. This suggests that environmental contamination plays a major role in biological exposure to cyclophosphamide.

Source: Ramphal, Raveena MBChB, MPH; Bains, Tejinder BSc (Pharm); Vaillancourt, Régis B Pharm, Pharm D; Osmond, Martin H. MDCM; Barrowman, Nicholas PhD. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: March 2014 - Volume 56 - Issue 3 - p 304–312.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/JOM.0000000000000097

Paraoxonase 1 and Its Relationship With Pesticide Biomarkers in Indigenous Mexican Farmworkers

Objective: Biomarkers of pesticide toxicity and paraoxonase 1 (PON1) phenotype and genotypes were evaluated in indigenous Mexican farmworkers exposed mainly to organophosphate (OP) pesticides.
Methods: Acetylcholinesterase, butyrylcholinesterase, and PON1 activities—arylesterase and CMPAase activities—were evaluated spectrophotometrically. PON1 55 and 192 polymorphisms were determined by real-time polymerase chain reaction. Hematological parameters were evaluated using a cytometer.
Results: Butyrylcholinesterase and arylesterase activities were lower in farmworkers, who also showed lower levels of leukocytes but higher percentages of lymphocytes when compared with the nonexposed group. Our results showed a high frequency of OP, high hydrolysis-related PON1 alleles (LL/QR and LL/RR) in the study population. An association was observed between CMPAase activity and PON1Q192R polymorphism.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that pesticide exposure modifies biochemical and hematological biomarkers in the study population, and that the phenotype of PON1 (CMPAase) is a sensible susceptibility biomarker of OP pesticide toxicity.

Source: Bernal-Hernández, Yael Yvette PhD; Medina-Díaz, Irma Martha PhD; Barrón-Vivanco, Briscia Socorro PhD; Robledo-Marenco, María de Lourdes PhD; Girón-Pérez, Manuel Iván PhD; Pérez-Herrera, Norma Elena PhD; Quintanilla-Vega, Betzabet PhD; Cerda-Flores, Ricardo PhD; Rojas-García, Aurora Elizabeth PhD. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: March 2014 - Volume 56 - Issue 3 - p 281–290.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/01.jom.0000438381.25597.88

Le formaldéhyde, une substance omniprésente et dangereuse

Des effets graves sur la santé en cas d'exposition massive ou répétée
Le formaldéhyde, appelé aussi aldéhyde formique, a des utilisations très variées. Il peut être également émis par une activité ou un procédé et donner lieu ainsi à des expositions dans de nombreux secteurs d'activités. Or, c'est une substance dangereuse pour la santé. Produisant des effets irritants voire corrosifs, elle peut être à l'origine d'allergies cutanées ou respiratoires. Cette substance devrait être classée comme cancérogène avéré par l'Union européenne à partir de 2015.

Source: http://www.inrs.fr/accueil/header/actualites/formaldehyde.html

Urinary S-phenylmercapturic Acid as a Key Biomarker for Measuring Occupational Exposure to Low Concentrations of Benzene in Chinese Workers

A Pilot Study
Objective: This study analyzed the level of urinary S-phenylmercapturic acid (U-SPMA) for low benzene exposure in a group of Chinese shoe-making workers.
Methods: Urinary samples from 55 workers exposed to benzene at levels lower than 10 parts per million (ppm) were collected at postshift. U-SPMA level was determined using high-performance liquid chromatography/mass spectrography (HPLC/MS) method.
Results: Good linearity of U-SPMA was observed within the range from 10 to 320 μg/L (r = 0.9994). Concentration of airborne benzene ranged from 0.71 to 32.17 mg/m3, and three segments were divided with different levels of exposure (≤6.0, 6.0 to 10.0, 10 to 32.5 mg/m3), the median U-SPMA concentrations were 49.55, 102.15, and 335.69 μg/g Cr, respectively.
Conclusion: A good linear correlation was found between U-SPMA levels and airborne benzene concentrations. The selected method could be applied for detecting other working conditions in China.

Source: Lv, Bi-hua MM; Song, Shi-zhen PhD; Zhang, Zhibing PhD; Mei, Yong PhD; Ye, Fang-li MB. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine:
March 2014 - Volume 56 - Issue 3 - p 319–325
http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/JOM.0000000000000098

Le Parlement européen dénonce l'indifférence vis-à-vis du cancer de la vessie

Le Parlement européen (PE) estime que trop peu d'attention est accordée aux cancers de la vessie, qu'il qualifie de "cancers oubliés". Le PE cite des chiffres de l'OMS qui font état de 120.000 nouveaux cas de cancer de la vessie diagnostiqués dans l'Union européenne en 2012.
Dix pour cent de ces cancers seraient liés à l'exposition professionnelle à des substances toxiques telles que les amines aromatiques, les hydrocarbures chlorés et les hydrocarbures aromatiques polycycliques.

Source: http://www.etui.org/fr/Actualites/Le-Parlement-europeen-denonce-l-indifference-vis-a-vis-du-cancer-de-la-vessie

La nouvelle base de données « solvants » de l’INRS

Mieux connaître les risques liés aux solvants organiques
La base de données « solvants » développée par l'INRS rassemble toutes les informations nécessaires à la prévention des risques liés à l'utilisation des solvants organiques. Elle vient de connaître une refonte importante. Les modalités de recherche ont notamment été modifiées pour permettre aux utilisateurs d'explorer avec plus de finesse toute la richesse des données proposées.

Source: http://www.inrs.fr/accueil/header/actualites/refonte-base-solvants.html

Management of ionizing radiation injuries and illnesses, part 1

Physics, radiation protection, and radiation instrumentation
Ionizing radiation injuries and illnesses are exceedingly rare; therefore, most physicians have never managed such conditions. When confronted with a possible radiation injury or illness, most physicians must seek specialty consultation. Protection of responders, health care workers, and patients is an absolute priority for the delivery of medical care. Management of ionizing radiation injuries and illnesses, as well as radiation protection, requires a basic understanding of physics. Also, to provide a greater measure of safety when working with radioactive materials, instrumentation for detection and identification of radiation is needed. Because any health care professional could face a radiation emergency, it is imperative that all institutions have emergency response plans in place before an incident occurs. The present article is an introduction to basic physics, ionizing radiation, radiation protection, and radiation instrumentation, and it provides a basis for management of the consequences of a radiologic or nuclear incident.

Source: Christensen DM, Jenkins MS, Sugarman SL, Glassman ES. J. Am. Osteopath. Assoc. 2014; 114(3): 189-199.
http://dx.doi.org/10.7556/jaoa.2014.037

La Commission européenne se félicite de l’adoption définitive par le Conseil d’une mesure améliorant la protection des travailleurs contre l’exposition aux produits chimiques dangereux

La Commission européenne se félicite de l'adoption par le Conseil des Ministres de l'UE d'une mesure visant à améliorer la protection des travailleurs susceptibles d'être exposés à des produits chimiques sur leur lieu de travail. La nouvelle directive modifie cinq directives de l'Union européenne régissant la santé et la sécurité des travailleurs et, plus précisément, la protection de ces derniers face à des substances chimiques dangereuses, afin d'aligner leurs dispositions sur les dernières règles relatives à la classification, à l'étiquetage et à l'emballage des substances chimiques (règlement (CE) n° 1272/2008). Les Etats Membres ont jusqu'au 1er juin 2015 pour transposer la nouvelle directive dans leur droit national.

Source: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-178_fr.htm

E-waste

An Emerging Health Risk
As the global waste stream created by discarded electronic equipment grows—an estimated 40 million tons of electronic waste (e-waste) are produced each year—it is becoming increasingly important to understand how exposure to e-waste affects human health. E-waste is hazardous because the components used to make devices such as laptops, cell phones, and televisions, contain metals and chemicals known to harm human health. Children, who are especially vulnerable to the effects of e-waste, often work, live, and play in or near e-waste recycling centers.

Source: http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/programs/geh/geh_newsletter/2014/2/spotlight/index.cfm

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