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1.  A 4-Year Follow-up Cohort Study of the Respiratory Functions in Toner-handling Workers 
Safety and Health at Work  2014;5(4):222-226.
Focusing on the respiratory function for health effect indices, we conducted a cross-sectional study on workers who did and did not handle toner to compare the longitudinal changes.
Among 116 individuals who worked for a Japanese business equipment manufacturer and participated in the study, the analysis included 69 male workers who we were able to follow up for 4 years. We categorized the 40 workers engaged in toner-handling work as the exposed group and the 29 workers not engaged in these tasks as the referent group, and compared their respiratory function test results: peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR), vital capacity (VC), predicted vital capacity (%VC), forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), and forced expiratory volume in 1 second as a percent of forced vital capacity (FEV1%).
The cross-sectional study of the respiratory function test results at the baseline and at the 5th year showed no statistically significant differences in PEFR, VC, %VC, FEV1, and FEV1% between the exposed and referent workers. Also, respiratory function time-course for 4 years was calculated and compared between the groups. No statistically significant differences were shown.
Our study does not suggest any toner exposure effects on respiratory function. However, the number of subjects was small in our study; studies of larger populations will be desired in the future.
PMCID: PMC4266780  PMID: 25516816
cohort analysis; photocopying; respiratory function test
2.  A Cohort Study on Self-Reported Respiratory Symptoms of Toner-Handling Workers: Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Analysis from 2003 to 2008 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:826757.
This study examines the relationship between toner-handling work and its health effects on self-reported respiratory symptoms. The subjects were 1,504 male workers in a Japanese toner and photocopier manufacturing company. Personal exposure measurement, pulmonary function tests, chest X-ray examination, measurement of biomarkers, and a questionnaire about self-reported respiratory symptoms were performed annually. This study discusses the questionnaire results. We found that the toner-handling group showed significantly higher prevalence of breathlessness than the never-toner-handling group. The significant reduction of pulmonary function and fibrosis change in the chest X-ray examination associated with breathlessness were not observed. However the morbidity of asthma was higher compared to the Japanese population in both of the toner-handling group and the never-toner handling group, the effect of toner exposure was not clarified. Nevertheless, while the toner exposure levels in the current well-controlled working environment may be sufficiently low to prevent adverse health effects, further studies are needed to assess the more long-term latent health effects of toner exposure.
PMCID: PMC3955631  PMID: 24719889
3.  Dispersion of single-walled carbon nanotubes modified with poly-l-tyrosine in water 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2011;6(1):128.
In this study, complexes composed of poly-l-tyrosine (pLT) and single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) were produced and the dispersibility of the pLT/SWCNT complexes in water by measuring the ζ potential of the complexes and the turbidity of the solution were investigated. It is found that the absolute value of the ζ potential of the pLT/SWCNT complexes is as high as that of SWCNTs modified with double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) and that the complexes remain stably dispersed in the water at least for two weeks. Thermogravimetry analysis (TGA) and visualization of the surface structures of pLT/SWCNT complexes using an atomic force microscope (AFM) were also carried out.
PMCID: PMC3211174  PMID: 21711636
4.  Activities of occupational physicians for occupational health services in small-scale enterprises in Japan and in the Netherlands 
Occupational health service (OHS) for small-scale enterprises (SSEs) is still limited in many countries. Both Japan and the Netherlands have universal OHS systems for all employees. The objective of this survey was to examine the activities of occupational physicians (OPs) in the two countries for SSEs and to investigate their proposals for the improvement of service.
Questionnaires on types and sizes of the industries they serve, allocation of service hours (current and desired), sources of information for occupational health activities etc. were mailed in 2006 to 461 and 335 Japanese and Dutch OPs, respectively, who have served in small- and medium-scale enterprises. In practice, 107 Japanese (23%) and 106 Dutch physicians (32%) replied, respectively.
Results and Conclusions
Total service time per month was longer for OPs in the Netherlands than OPs in Japan. Japanese OPs spent more hours for health and safety meetings, worksite rounds, and prevention of overwork-induced ill health (14–16% each). Dutch OPs used much more hours for the guidance of absent workers (48%). Thus, service conditions were not the same for OPs in the two countries. Nevertheless, both groups of OPs unanimously considered that employers are the key persons for the improvement of OHS especially in SSEs and their education is important for better OHS. The conclusions should be taken as preliminary, however, due to study limitations including low response rates in both groups of physicians.
PMCID: PMC2836247  PMID: 20130904
Education; Employer; Occupational physician; Occupational health services; Small-scale enterprises
5.  National Use of Asbestos in Relation to Economic Development 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2009;118(1):116-119.
National disparities in asbestos use will likely lead to an unequal burden of asbestos diseases.
As economic status may be linked to asbestos use, we assessed, globally, the relationship between indicators of national economic development and asbestos use.
For the 135 countries that have ever used asbestos, per capita asbestos use (kilograms per capita per year) was compared with per capita gross domestic product (GDP) in 1990 Geary–Khamis dollars (GKD) for the period 1920–2003. Countries were grouped into three income levels (high, middle, and low) that were adapted from the 2003 World Bank categories.
The historical pattern of asbestos use followed the environmental Kuznets curve in which use by high-income countries peaked when incomes attained 10,000–15,000 GKD and essentially ceased at income levels over 20,000 GKD. Currently, middle- and low-income countries are increasing their use of asbestos, closely following the paths once traced by higher income countries.
Developing countries have the opportunity to eliminate asbestos use sooner than high-income countries and thus reduce the future burden of asbestos diseases.
PMCID: PMC2831954  PMID: 20056590
asbestos diseases; asbestos use; economic development; environmental Kuznets curve; income level; inflection points
6.  Recent Mortality from Pleural Mesothelioma, Historical Patterns of Asbestos Use, and Adoption of Bans: A Global Assessment 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2008;116(12):1675-1680.
In response to the health risks posed by asbestos exposure, some countries have imposed strict regulations and adopted bans, whereas other countries have intervened less and continue to use varying quantities of asbestos.
This study was designed to assess, on a global scale, national experiences of recent mortality from pleural mesothelioma, historical trends in asbestos use, adoption of bans, and their possible interrelationships.
For 31 countries with available data, we analyzed recent pleural mesothelioma (International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision) mortality rates (MRs) using age-adjusted period MRs (deaths/million/year) from 1996 to 2005. We calculated annual percent changes (APCs) in age-adjusted MRs to characterize trends during the period. We characterized historical patterns of asbestos use by per capita asbestos use (kilograms per capita/year) and the status of national bans.
Period MRs increased with statistical significance in five countries, with marginal significance in two countries, and were equivocal in 24 countries (five countries in Northern and Western Europe recorded negative APC values). Countries adopting asbestos bans reduced use rates about twice as fast as those not adopting bans. Turning points in use preceded bans. Change in asbestos use during 1970–1985 was a significant predictor of APC in mortality for pleural mesothelioma, with an adjusted R2 value of 0.47 (p < 0.0001).
The observed disparities in global mesothelioma trends likely relate to country-to-country disparities in asbestos use trends.
PMCID: PMC2599762  PMID: 19079719
asbestos; asbestos-related diseases; ban; epidemiology; lung cancer; mesothelioma; mortality; occupational cancer; pleural mesothelioma
7.  New trends for practice in telecommunication applied to preventive and environmental medicine 
This paper presents survey results of connectivity to the Internet from preventive and environmental medicine-related departments in medical schools and other institutions in Japan and propose means to establish connectivity among them. Of 191 facilities surveyed, 134 (70%) responded by March 31, 1996. The data presented here are from 132 facilities. One hundred seventeen facilities (89%) answered that they were connected to the Internet. More than 80% of them got access to the Internet in the past two years. One hundred three facilities (78%) answered that e-mail was available. Despite the large percentage being connected, only 11 facilities (8%) had their own homepages. However, just 6 months later more than 25 facilities could be found by their own homepages. The Global Health Network (GHNet) has been developed in the USA based upon the concept that the best means to produce improved health is a better surveillance and information system applying the latest telecommunication technology to public health. The GHNet will offer an initial homepage for Preventive and Environmental Medicine related facilities in Japan to promote and establish sustainable connectivity among them.
PMCID: PMC2723330  PMID: 21432450
Telecommunication; Internet; Connectivity; Homepage; Network

Results 1-7 (7)