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1.  Professional exposure to basaltic rock dust: assessment by the Vibrio fischeri ecotoxicological test 
Background
A recent study demonstrates that inhalation of airborne particulate from Mount Etna eruptions may induce fibrotic lung disease. The occupational exposure of construction workers from the Etna area, who excavate building sites and use basalt dust to make mortar, has never been assessed.
Methods
Samples of basalt, volcanic ash, basalt + cement and cement dust were collected on the construction site of a subway tunnel, ground to dust and subjected to the Microtox® solid-phase test to evaluate the toxicity of dust suspensions. Samples were investigated by scanning electron microscopy equipped with energy dispersive X-ray analysis (EDX). Minerals were identified and characterized by their morphology and elemental composition.
Results
The elements found most frequently were C, Na, Mg, Al, Si, K, Ca, Ti, Mn, Fe and O. All four dusts were toxic: basalt and ash were significantly less toxic than basalt + cement and cement, which shared a similar and very high degree of toxicity. Higher Fe, Ca and Mg concentrations were associated with greater toxicity.
Conclusions
The risk related to long-term occupational exposure to various dusts on constructions sites in the Mount Etna area should be further assessed.
doi:10.1186/1745-6673-8-23
PMCID: PMC3766014  PMID: 24128058
Vibrio fischeri; Microtox®; Basaltic stone; Ecotoxicological test; Ash; Mount Etna
2.  A tailored health surveillance program unveils a case of MALT lymphoma in an HCV-positive health-care worker 
Oncology Letters  2012;5(2):651-654.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) may occur among hepatitis C virus (HCV)-infected individuals. HCV is one of the most common blood-borne pathogens transmitted from patients to health-care workers (HCWs). The development of NHL among HCV-infected HCWs has recently been shown. To investigate this issue further a tailored health surveillance program was applied to 3,138 HCWs from four Medical Institutions. To this aim, all employees were screened for both anti-HCV antibodies and HCV-related extrahepatic manifestations. The HCV prevalence rate, similar among all the HCW subgroups, was 7.3%. The occurrence of a gastric mucosa-associated lymphoma tissue (MALT) lymphoma, diagnosed in a physician following a long history of HCV chronic infection, was observed. Molecular characterization of MALT tissue indicated that immunoglobuline gene combinations were those usually found among HCV-associated lymphomas. Furthermore, B-cell expansion exhibited t(14;18) translocation, as a genetic abnormality associated with the development of MALT lymphomas from HCV-positive patients. Overall, these findings support the hypothesis that HCV viral infection potentially affects the pathway of transformation and progression of lymphoma cells. The occurrence of B-cell NHL, among HCV-positive HCWs, is an additional reason to apply the standard precautions to reduce the risk of blood-borne pathogen transmission.
doi:10.3892/ol.2012.1028
PMCID: PMC3573080  PMID: 23420489
hepatitis C virus; health-care worker; non-Hodgkin lymphoma; surveillance
3.  Long-Term Persistence of Seroprotection by Hepatitis B Vaccination in Healthcare Workers of Southern Italy 
Hepatitis Monthly  2012;12(9):e6025.
Background
The impact of hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccination campaigns on HBV epidemiology needs to be evaluated, in order to assess the long-term immunity offered by vaccines against HBV.
Objectives
To evaluate the current status of anti-HBV vaccine coverage among healthcare workers (HCWs) in Southern Italy, and to determine the long-term persistence of antibodies to hepatitis B surface antigens (anti-HBs) in such a cohort of subjects.
Patients and Methods
A longitudinal, retrospective seroepidemiological survey was conducted among 451 HCWs, who were working at or visiting, the Occupational Health Department of a city hospital, in Catania, Italy, between January 1976 and December 2010.
Results
At the 30-year follow-up (mean follow-up 10.15 ± 5.96 years, range 0.74-30), 261 HCWs had detectable anti-HBs titers indicating a persistence of seroprotection of 89.4% (out of 292 anti-HBs positive results, three months after vaccination). An inadequate vaccination schedule was the strongest predictor of antibody loss during follow-up (OR = 8.37 95% CI: 5.41-12.95, P < 0.001). A Kaplan-Maier survival curve revealed that the persistence of anti-HBs 30 years after vaccination, was 92.2% for high responders, while it was only 27.3% for low responders (P = 0.001).
Conclusions
A good level of seroprotection persisted in 57.9% of the subjects after 30 years. Factors related to this immunization status confirmed the importance of vaccinating HCWs early in their careers and ensuring an adequate vaccination schedule. However, with particular reference to the low rate of hepatitis B vaccine coverage among HCWs in Southern Italy, the implementation of a new educational intervention as part of an active vaccination program is needed.
doi:10.5812/hepatmon.6025
PMCID: PMC3475028  PMID: 23087756
Hepatitis B Virus; Vaccines; Health Personnel; Vaccination

Results 1-3 (3)