Exposure at the working place to various substances, that may affect semen quality is possible and should be investigated in detail. One appropriate method for this is computer-assisted sperm analysis (CASA) which offers multiple benefits in comparison to manual evaluation. However, several pitfalls exist, which make the evaluation of data obtained from CASA difficult to interpret. In the present commentary, we focus on these problems, show some examples, and try to define minimum standards which should be taken into consideration whenever working with computer-assisted sperm analysis.
Computer-assisted sperm analysis; CASA; Sperm motility; Reproductive toxicology
United States Army combat engineer (ENG) training is an intense 14-week course designed to introduce new recruits to basic soldiering activities, Army values and lifestyle, and engineering skills and knowledge. The present investigation examined injury rates and injury risk factors in ENG training.
At the start of their training, 1,633 male ENG recruits were administered a questionnaire containing items on date of birth, height, weight, tobacco use, prior physical activity, and injury history. Injuries during training were obtained from electronic medical records and the training units provided data on student graduation and attrition. Risk factors were identified using Cox regression.
Ninety-two percent of the recruits successfully graduated from the course and 47% of the recruits experienced one or more injuries during training. Univariate Cox regression demonstrated that recruits were at higher injury risk if they reported that they were older, had a higher or lower body mass index, had smoked in the past, had performed less exercise (aerobic or muscle strength) or sports prior to ENG training, had experienced a previous time-loss lower limb injury (especially if they had not totally recovered from that injury), or had a lower educational level.
The present investigation was the first to identify injury rates and identify specific factors increasing injury risk during ENG training. The identified risk factors provide a basis for recommending future prevention strategies.
Age; Body mass index; Smoking; Exercise; Physical activity; Prior injury; Education
We have investigated the relationship between atopic status and long-term occupational exposure to latex proteins or methyl diethyl diisocyanate (MDI) as high and low molecular weight asthma-inducing agents, respectively.
This study is based on retrospective analyses of two groups of symptomatic outpatients: 184 healthcare workers with latex exposure and 156 workers with isocyanate (MDI) exposure. We analysed atopic and non-atopic subgroups according to exposure duration and the frequencies of specific sensitization.
45% of the healthcare subgroup specifically sensitized to latex were atopic, whereas in the non-sensitized healthcare subgroup only 26% were atopic. On the other hand, subjects specifically sensitized to MDI were rarely atopic (only 15%), whereas in the subgroup non-sensitized to MDI atopy was present in 38%. After prolonged durations of exposure, the proportion of atopics was further elevated in most healthcare subgroups but it decreased in the MDI-exposed subjects.
We hypothesize that latex proteins as sensitizing agents might promote the development of atopy, whereas exposure to the low molecular weight MDI might inhibit the atopic status.
Occupational exposure; Allergic asthma; Latex sensitization; Isocyanate asthma; Environmental sensitization; Atopy status
The effect of using a borderline zone for the interpretation of the interferon-γ release assay (IGRA) on the prediction of progression to active tuberculosis (TB) in healthcare workers (HCW) is analysed.
Data from a published study on TB screening in Portuguese HCW is reanalysed using a borderline zone for the interpretation of the IGRA. Testing was performed with the QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube (QFT). The borderline zone for the QFT was defined as interferon (INF) in QFT ≥0.2 to <0.7 IU/mL. An X-ray was performed when the IGRA was positive (≥0.35 IU/mL) or typical symptoms were present. Sputum analysis was performed according to the X-ray or the presence of typical symptoms.
The cohort comprised 2,884 HCW with a QFT that could be interpreted. In 1,780 (61.7%) HCW, the QFT was <0.2 IU/mL. A borderline result was found in 341 (11.8%) and a QFT >0.7 IU/mL in 763 (26.3%) HCW. Fifty-seven HCW had a TB in their medical history, eight had a TB at the time of screening and progression to active TB was observed in four HCW. Two out of eight HCW (25%) with active TB at the time of screening had a QFT result falling into the borderline zone. One out of four HCW (25%) who progressed towards active TB after being tested with QFT had QFT results falling into the borderline zone. A second IGRA was performed in 1,199 HCW. In total, 292 (24.4%) HCW had at least one of the two IGRA results pertaining to the borderline zone.
Using a borderline zone for the QFT from 0.2 to 0.7 IU/mL should be administered with care, as active TB as well as progression to active TB might be overlooked. Therefore, the borderline zone should be restricted to populations with a low TB risk only.
Interferon-γ release assay; Tuberculosis; Healthcare workers
Tinnitus is considered the third worst symptom affecting humans. The aim of this article is to assess complaints by workers with tinnitus exposed to environmental and occupational noise.
495 workers went through an epidemiological survey at the Audiology Department of the Center for Studies on Workers’ Health and Human Ecology, from 2003 to 2007. The workers underwent tonal and vocal audiometry, preceded by a clinical and occupational history questionnaire. Two-factor ANOVA and Tukey were the statistical tests used. All the analysis set statistical significance at α=5%.
There was a higher prevalence of occupational tinnitus (73.7%), a predominance of female domestic workers (65.4%) in cases of environmental exposure, and predominance of male construction workers (71.5%) for occupational exposure. There was a significant difference in workers with hearing loss, who showed a mean speech recognition index (SRI) of 85%, as compared to healthy workers with a mean SRI greater than 93.5%. Signs and symptoms, speech perception, and interference in sound localization with the type of noise exposure (environmental versus occupational) comparisons found no significant differences.
Studied group’s high prevalence of tinnitus, major difficulties in speech recognition with hearing loss and the presence of individuals with normal hearing with both types of exposure justify the importance of measures in health promotion, prevention, and hearing surveillance. The findings highlight the importance of valuing the patients’ own perception as the first indication of tinnitus and hearing loss in order to help develop appropriate public policies within the Unified National Health System (SUS).
Tinnitus; Noise; Workers’ health; Hearing health
The EPILYMPH study applied a detailed occupational exposure assessment approach to a large multi-centre case–control study conducted in six European countries. This paper analysed multiple myeloma (MM) risk associated with level of education, and lifetime occupational history and occupational exposures, based on the EPILYMPH data set.
277 MM cases and four matched controls per each case were included. Controls were randomly selected, matching for age (+/− 5 years), centre and gender. Lifetime occupations and lifetime exposure to specific workplace agents was obtained through a detailed questionnaire. Local industrial hygienists assessed likelihood and intensity for specific exposures. The odds ratio and 95% confidence intervals (OR, 95% CI) were calculated for level of education, individual occupations and specific exposures. Unconditional logistic regression models were run for individual occupations and exposures.
A low level of education was associated with MM OR=1.68 (95% CI 1.02-2.76). An increased risk was observed for general farmers (OR=1.77; 95% CI 1.05-2.99) and cleaning workers (OR=1.69; 95% CI 1.04-2.72) adjusting for level of education. Risk was also elevated, although not significant, for printers (OR=2.06; 95% CI 0.97-4.34). Pesticide exposure over a period of ten years or more increased MM risk (OR=1.62; 95% CI 1.01-2.58).
These results confirm an association of MM with farm work, and indicate its association with printing and cleaning. While prolonged exposure to pesticides seems to be a risk factor for MM, an excess risk associated with exposure to organic solvents could not be confirmed.
Multiple Myeloma; Occupation; Pesticide; Epidemiology; Case–control study; EPILYMPH study
Biological monitoring is used to assess toluene exposure in medical examinations. The American Conference of Industrial Hygienists, Japanese Society for Occupational Health and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft have proposed various biological exposure determinants, such as toluene in blood and urine, and o-cresol in urine. Toluene in blood is a common biomarker among them. Toluene is a volatile organic solvent; therefore, sample preservation under appropriate conditions before measurement is necessary. However, little study has been done on the stability of toluene in workers’ blood samples under conditions simulating those of a medical examination.
We carried out a pilot study on the stability of toluene in blood from humans, according to different methods of sample preservation. Toluene in blood was analyzed by head space-gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. The sealing performance of the vial was examined by using toluene-added blood and the stability of toluene in blood according to the preservation period was examined by using blood from toluene-handling workers, which was collected with vacuum blood tubes. The sealing performance of the headspace vial used in this study was good for three days and toluene in blood in tubes from workers was stable at least within 8 hours up to blood packing at 4°C.
We could propose that the collected blood need only be transferred into headspace vials on the collection day and analyzed within a few days, if the samples are preserved at 4°C. Our data size is limited; however, it may be considered basic information for biological monitoring in medical examinations.
Stability; Toluene; GC/MS; Medical examination; Volatile organic solvent
Dairy farming is physically demanding and associated with a high frequency of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). This study investigated and compared work-related MSD, ergonomic work factors and physical exertion in farmers and employed farm workers on dairy farms in Sweden.
The study comprised 66 dairy farmers, and 37 employed dairy farm workers. A modified version of the general Standardised Nordic Questionnaire was used for analyses of perceived MSD in nine different parts of the body. Perceived physical discomfort was assessed using questions concerning ergonomic work factors. A rating scale was used for analyses of perceived physical exertion. Information about participant demographics was also collected. The response rate amounted to 70%.
The most frequently reported MSD in farmers and farm workers were located in the lower back (50% and 43%, respectively) and the shoulders (47% and 43%, respectively). MSD were also frequently reported in the neck (33%) among farmers, and in the hands/wrist (41%) among farm workers. MSD in the elbows (23%) and feet (21%) were significantly more frequently reported by farmers than farm workers (5%). Female farmers and farm workers both reported significantly higher frequencies of MSD in the neck (48% and 56%, respectively) and hands/wrists (44% and 61%, respectively) than their male colleagues (24% and 5%; 10% and 21%, respectively). In addition, female farm workers had significantly higher reported frequencies of MSD in the upper and lower back (39% and 61%, respectively) than their male counterparts (5% and 26%, respectively). Milking was perceived as a weakly to moderately physically demanding work task. Repetitive and monotonous work in dairy houses was the ergonomic work factor most frequently reported as causing physically discomfort among farmers (36%) and farm workers (32%), followed by lifting heavy objects (17% and 27%, respectively). Female workers had significantly more reported discomfort from repetitive and monotonous work than their male counterparts (50% and 16%, respectively).
Despite the technical developments on modern dairy farms, there is still a high prevalence of MSD and discomfort from ergonomic work factors, particularly among female workers.
Ergonomic work factors; Work environment; Physical exertion; Dairy farming; Milking; Agriculture; Questionnaire; Rating scale
The aim of this study was to investigate whether self-reports of work ability correlated to the results of quantitative tests measuring physical capacity and a questionnaire assessing psychological mood in vibration-exposed patients with hand symptoms.
The participants comprised 47 patients (36 men and eleven women) with exposure to hand vibration and vascular and/or neurological symptoms in the hands. They performed several quantitative tests (manual dexterity, hand grip strength, finger strength) and completed the Work Ability Index (WAI) and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) questionnaires.
Correlation analysis revealed statistically significant associations between the WAI results, the HADS indices, hand grip and finger strength, and manual dexterity measured using the Purdue Pegboard®. Multiple regression analysis revealed age and HADS indices as the strongest predictors of work ability.
The patient’s age and psychological mood may be stronger predictors of work ability compared with results from tests measuring physical capacity of the hands in vibration-exposed patients with hand symptoms. When using the WAI as an instrument for assessing work ability in these patients, health care providers need to be more aware of the impact of the psychological mood.
Quantitative test; Work Ability Index; WAI; Mental condition; HADS; Vibration; Hand symptoms; Grip strength; Manual dexterity
Particulate matter (PM) is assumed to exert a major burden on public health. Most studies that address levels of PM use stationary measure systems. By contrast, only few studies measure PM concentrations under mobile conditions to analyze individual exposure situations.
By combining spatial-temporal analysis with a novel vehicle-mounted sensor system, the present Mobile Air Quality Study (MAQS) aimed to analyse effects of different driving conditions in a convertible vehicle. PM10 was continuously monitored in a convertible car, driven with roof open, roof closed, but windows open, or windows closed.
PM10 values inside the car were nearly always higher with open roof than with roof and windows closed, whereas no difference was seen with open or closed windows. During the day PM10 values varied with high values before noon, and occasional high median values or standard deviation values due to individual factors. Vehicle speed in itself did not influence the mean value of PM10; however, at traffic speed (10 – 50 km/h) the standard deviation was large. No systematic difference was seen between PM10 values in stationary and mobile cars, nor was any PM10 difference observed between driving within or outside an environmental (low emission) zone.
The present study has shown the feasibility of mobile PM analysis in vehicles. Individual exposure of the occupants varies depending on factors like time of day as well as ventilation of the car; other specific factors are clearly identifiably and may relate to specific PM10 sources. This system may be used to monitor individual exposure ranges and provide recommendations for preventive measurements. Although differences in PM10 levels were found under certain ventilation conditions, these differences are likely not of concern for the safety and health of passengers.
Respiratory irritants represent a major cause of occupational obstructive airway diseases. We provide an overview of the evidence related to irritative agents causing occupational asthma or occupational COPD.
We searched MEDLINE via PubMed. Reference lists of relevant reviews were also screened. The SIGN grading system was used to rate the quality of each study. The modified RCGP three-star system was used to grade the body of evidence for each irritant agent regarding its causative role in either occupational asthma or occupational COPD.
A total of 474 relevant papers were identified, covering 188 individual agents, professions or work-sites. The focus of most of the studies and the predominant diagnosis was occupational asthma, whereas occupational COPD arose only incidentally.
The highest level assigned using the SIGN grading was 2+ (well-conducted systematic review, cohort or case–control study with a low risk of confounding or bias). According to the modified RCGP three-star grading, the strongest evidence of association with an individual agent, profession or work-site (“**”) was found for 17 agents or work-sites, including benzene-1,2,4-tricarboxylicacid-1,2-anhydride, chlorine, platinum salt, isocyanates, cement dust, grain dust, animal farming, environmental tobacco smoke, welding fumes or construction work. Phthalic anhydride, glutaraldehyde, sulphur dioxide, cotton dust, cleaning agents, potrooms, farming (various), foundries were found to be moderately associated with occupational asthma or occupational COPD (“*[+]”).
This study let us assume that irritant-induced occupational asthma and especially occupational COPD are considerably underreported. Defining the evidence of the many additional occupational irritants for causing airway disorders will be the subject of continued studies with implications for diagnostics and preventive measures.
Work-related asthma; Occupational asthma; Occupational COPD; RADS; Irritant-induced asthma
The aim of this work was to introduce a new combined method of subjective and objective measures to assess psychosocial risk factors at work and improve workers’ health and well-being. In the literature most of the research on work-related stress focuses on self-report measures and this work represents the first methodology capable of integrating different sources of data.
An integrated method entitled St.A.R.T. (STress Assessment and Research Toolkit) was used in order to assess psychosocial risk factors and two health outcomes. In particular, a self-report questionnaire combined with an observational structured checklist was administered to 113 workers from an Italian retail company.
The data showed a correlation between subjective data and the rating data of the observational checklist for the psychosocial risk factors related to work contexts such as customer relationship management and customer queue. Conversely, the factors related to work content (workload and boredom) measured with different methods (subjective vs. objective) showed a discrepancy. Furthermore, subjective measures of psychosocial risk factors were more predictive of workers’ psychological health and exhaustion than rating data. The different objective measures played different roles, however, in terms of their influence on the two health outcomes considered.
It is important to integrate self-related assessment of stressors with objective measures for a better understanding of workers’ conditions in the workplace. The method presented could be considered a useful methodology for combining the two measures and differentiating the impact of different psychological risk factors related to work content and context on workers’ health.
Observational method; Work-related stress; Psychosocial risk factors; Workers’ health
Oxalic acid poisoning is being recognized as an emerging epidemic in the rural communities of Sri Lanka as it is a component of locally produced household laundry detergents. Herein we describe a case of a 32 year old female, presenting after direct ingestion of oxalic acid. She then went on to develop significant metabolic acidosis and acute renal failure, requiring dialysis. Renal biopsy revealed acute tubulointerstitial nephritis associated with diffuse moderate acute tubular damage with refractile crystals in some of the tubules. The patient symptomatically improved with haemodialysis and renal functions subsequently returned to normal.
Oxalic acid poisoning; Acute renal failure; Sri Lanka
Contradictory reports have been published regarding the association of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) and the use of computer keyboard. Previous studies did not take into account the cumulative exposure to keyboard strokes among computer workers. The aim of the present study was to investigate the association between cumulative keyboard use (keyboard strokes) and CTS.
Employees (461) from a Governmental data entry & processing unit agreed to participate (response rate: 84.1 %) in a cross-sectional study. Α questionnaire was distributed to the participants to obtain information on socio-demographics and risk factors for CTS. The participants were examined for signs and symptoms related to CTS and were asked if they had previous history or surgery for CTS. The cumulative amount of the keyboard strokes per worker per year was calculated by the use of payroll’s registry. Two case definitions for CTS were used. The first included subjects with personal history/surgery for CTS while the second included subjects that belonged to the first case definition plus those participants were identified through clinical examination.
Multivariate analysis used for both case definitions, indicated that those employees with high cumulative exposure to keyboard strokes were at increased risk of CTS (case definition A: OR = 2.23;95 % CI = 1.09-4.52 and case definition B: OR = 2.41; 95%CI = 1.36-4.25). A dose response pattern between cumulative exposure to keyboard strokes and CTS has been revealed (p < 0.001).
The present study indicated a possible association between cumulative exposure to keyboard strokes and development of CTS. Cumulative exposure to key-board strokes would be taken into account as an exposure indicator regarding exposure assessment of computer workers. Further research is needed in order to test the results of the current study and assess causality between cumulative keyboard strokes and development of CT.
In Ethiopia, although there are numerous small-scale and medium industries which use lead-based raw materials that may pose health risks to workers, there are no workplace regulations for lead exposure. Moreover, there are no studies carried out on the blood lead levels (BLLs) of workers or on the contribution of common workplace practices to lead poisoning.
A cross-sectional study on the BLLs of 45 automotive garage workers and 40 non-garage workers was carried out in the town of Jimma, Ethiopia. In addition to BLL analysis, data on some risk factors such as smoking, and chewing ‘khat’ (the leaves of Catha adulis) were gathered through structured questionnaires and interviews and data analysis was performed using SPSS (version 16). The t-test was used to compare mean BLLs of study groups. The analysis of variance (ANOVA), Kruskal-Wallis, Pearson chi-square and odds ratio tests were used to investigate the associations between specific job type, smoking and/or ‘khat’ chewing, service years and occurrence of non-specific symptoms with BLLs.
The mean BLL of the automotive-garage workers was found to be significantly greater than that of the controls. The BLLs of all the lead-exposed individuals were found to be over 10 μg/dL, and 53% of them had BLLs ranging 12 – 20 μg/dL, with the remaining 47% having over 20 μg/dL. The BLL of the workers increased with the duration of working in an automotive garage.
Individuals involved in manual car painting comprise a larger percentage (58%) of those with the highest BLLs (≥ 20 μg/dL). Lead accumulation in individuals who chew ‘khat’ in the work place was found to be faster than in those who are not used to chewing ‘khat’. ‘Khat’ is an evergreen shrub native to tropical East Africa, with dark green opposite leaves which are chewed when fresh for their stimulating effects.
The findings of the study have clearly demonstrated that the BLLs of automotive-garage workers in Jimma town are considerably high with a range of 11.73 – 36.52 μg/dL and the workers are in danger of impending lead toxicity. The BLLs of the workers are influenced by their occupational practices, chewing Catha adulis leaves at the workplace, and the time spent working in an automotive garage.
Lead; Garage workers; Blood lead level; ‘khat’ (Catha adulis); Ethiopia
Potential health damage by environmental emission of tobacco smoke (environmental tobacco smoke, ETS) has been demonstrated convincingly in numerous studies. People, especially children, are still exposed to ETS in the small space of private cars. Although major amounts of toxic compounds from ETS are likely transported into the distal lung via particulate matter (PM), few studies have quantified the amount of PM in ETS.
The aim of this study was to determine the ETS-dependent concentration of PM from both a 3R4F reference cigarette (RC) as well as a Marlboro Red brand cigarette (MRC) in a small enclosed space under different conditions of ventilation to model car exposure.
In order to create ETS reproducibly, an emitter (ETSE) was constructed and mounted on to an outdoor telephone booth with an inner volume of 1.75 m3. Cigarettes were smoked under open- and closed-door condition to imitate different ventilation scenarios. PM2.5 concentration was quantified by a laser aerosol spectrometer (Grimm; Model 1.109), and data were adjusted for baseline values. Simultaneously indoor and outdoor climate parameters were recorded. The time of smoking was divided into the ETS generation phase (subset “emission”) and a declining phase of PM concentration (subset “elimination”); measurement was terminated after 10 min. For all three time periods the average concentration of PM2.5 (Cmean-PM2.5) and the area under the PM2.5 concentration curve (AUC-PM2.5) was calculated. The maximum concentration (Cmax-PM2.5) was taken from the total interval.
For both cigarette types open-door ventilation reduced the AUC-PM2.5 (RC: from 59 400 ± 14 600 to 5 550 ± 3 900 μg*sec/m3; MRC: from 86 500 ± 32 000 to 7 300 ± 2 400 μg*sec/m3; p < 0.001) and Cmean-PM2.5 (RC: from 600 ± 150 to 56 ± 40 μg/m3, MRC from 870 ± 320 to 75 ± 25 μg/m3; p < 0.001) by about 90%. Cmax-PM2.5 was reduced by about 80% (RC: from 1 050 ± 230 to 185 ± 125 μg/m3; MRC: from 1 560 ±500 μg/m3 to 250 ± 85 μg/m3; p < 0.001). In the subset “emission” we identified a 78% decrease in AUC-PM2.5 (RC: from 18 600 ± 4 600 to 4 000 ± 2 600 μg*sec/m3; MRC: from 26 600 ± 7 200 to 5 800 ± 1 700 μg*sec/m3; p < 0.001) and Cmean-PM2.5 (RC: from 430 ± 108 to 93 ± 60 μg/m3; MRC: from 620 ± 170 to 134 ± 40 μg/m3; p < 0.001). In the subset “elimination” we found a reduction of about 96–98% for AUC-PM2.5 (RC: from 40 800 ± 11 100 to 1 500 ± 1 700 μg*sec/m3; MRC: from 58 500 ± 25 200 to 1 400 ± 800 μg*sec/m3; p < 0.001) and Cmean-PM2.5 (RC: from 730 ± 200 to 27 ± 29 μg/m3; MRC: from 1 000 ± 450 to 26 ± 15 μg/m3; p < 0.001). Throughout the total interval Cmax-PM2.5 of MRC was about 50% higher (1 550 ± 500 μg/m3) compared to RC (1 050 ± 230 μg/m3; p < 0.05). For the subset “emission” - but not for the other periods - AUC-PM2.5 for MRC was 43% higher (MRC: 26 600 ± 7 200 μg*sec/m3; RC: 18 600 ± 4 600 μg*sec/m3; p < 0.05) and 44% higher for Cmean-PM2.5 (MRC: 620 ± 170 μg/m3; RC: 430 ± 108 μg/m3; p < 0.05).
This method allows reliable quantification of PM2.5-ETS exposure under various conditions, and may be useful for ETS risk assessment in realistic exposure situations. The findings demonstrate that open-door condition does not completely remove ETS from a defined indoor space of 1.75 m3. Because there is no safe level of ETS exposure ventilation is not adequate enough to prevent ETS exposure in confined spaces, e.g. private cars. Additionally, differences in the characteristics of cigarettes affect the amount of ETS particle emission and need to be clarified by ongoing investigations.
Urban health is potentially affected by particle emissions. The potential toxicity of nanoparticles is heavily debated and there is an enormous global increase in research activity in this field. In this respect, it is commonly accepted that nanoparticles may also be generated in processes occurring while driving vehicles. So far, a variety of studies addressed traffic-related particulate matter emissions, but only few studies focused on potential nanoparticles.
Therefore, the present study analyzed the literature with regard to nanoparticles and cars. It can be stated that, to date, only a limited amount of research has been conducted in this area and more studies are needed to 1) address kind and sources of nanoparticles within automobiles and to 2) analyse whether there are health effects caused by these nanoparticles.
Whole body vibration (WBV) is a potentially harmful consequence resulting from the dissipation of energy by industrial machineries. The result of WBV exposure on the auditory system remains unknown. The objective of the present research was to evaluate the influence of WBV on cochlear function, in particular outer hair cell function. It is hypothesized that WBV impairs cochlear function resulting in decreased Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emission (DPOAE) levels (Ldp) in rabbits subjected to WBV.
Twelve rabbits were equally divided into vibration and control groups. Animals in vibration group were exposed to 1.0 ms-2 r.m.s vertical WBV at 4–8 Hz for 8 h/day during 5 consecutive days. Outer hair cell function was assessed by comparing repeated-measurements of DPOAE levels (Ldp) across a range of f2 frequencies in rabbits both exposed and unexposed to WBV. DPOAE level shifts (LSdp) were compared across ears, frequencies, groups, and times.
No differences were seen over time in DPOAE levels in the non-exposed rabbits (p = 0.082). Post-exposure Ldp in rabbits exposed to WBV were significantly increased at all test frequencies in both ears compared to baseline measures (p = 0.021). The greatest increase in Ldp following exposure was seen at 5888.5 Hz (mean shift = 13.25 dB). Post-exposure Ldp in rabbits exposed to WBV were not significantly different between the right and left ears (p = 0.083).
WBV impairs cochlear function resulting in increased DPOAE responses in rabbits exposed to WBV. DPOAE level shifts occurred over a wide range of frequencies following prolonged WBV in rabbits.
Cochlear function; Whole body vibration; Distortion product otoacoustic emissions; Rabbit's hearing; DPOAEs
Interferon-gamma release assays (IGRAs) are increasingly used in the tuberculosis (TB) screening of health care workers (HCWs). However, comparatively high rates of conversions and reversion as well as growing evidence of substantial within-subject variability of interferon-gamma responses complicate their interpretation in the serial testing of HCWs.
We conducted a systematic review on the repeat use of the two commercial IGRAs, the QuantiFERON-TB Gold or In-Tube version (QFT) and the T-SPOT.TB (T-SPOT), in the serial testing and its with-subject variability among HCWs in order to provide guidance on how to interpret serial testing results in the context of the periodic screening of subjects with an increased occupational risk of latent TB infection (LTBI) in countries with low and intermediate TB incidence rates. The Medline, Embase, and Cochrane databases were searched without restrictions. Retrieved articles were complemented by additional hand searched records. Only studies that used commercial IGRAs among HCWs apart from contact and outbreak investigations and those fulfilling further predefined criteria were included.
Overall, 20 studies, five using the T-SPOT and 19 using the QFT assay, were included. Fifteen studies met eligibility criteria for serial testing and five studies for within-subject variability. Irrespective of TB incidence rates in the study’s country of origin, reversion rates were consistently higher than conversion rates (range 22–71% vs. 1–14%). Subjects with baseline results around the diagnostic threshold were more likely to show inconsistent results on retesting. The within-subject variability of interferon-gamma responses was considerable across all studies systematically assessing it.
On the basis of reviewed studies we advocate using a borderline zone from 0.2–0.7 IU/ml for the interpretation of repeat QFT results in the routine screening of HCWs with an increased LTBI risk. Subjects with QFT results within this borderline zone, with suspected fresh infection, and those who are considered for preventive chemotherapy should be retested with the QFT within a period of about four weeks before preventive chemotherapy is recommended. However, the available data regarding the use of the T-SPOT in the serial testing of HCWs is remarkably limited and warrants further research.
Interferon-γ release assay; Health care workers; Latent tuberculosis infection; Occupational disease; Serial testing; Tuberculosis; Within-subject variability
The Cryptococcus spp is currently composed of encapsulated yeasts of cosmopolitan distribution, including the etiological agents of cryptococcosis. The fungus are found mainly in substrates of animal and plant origin. Human infection occurs through inhalation of spores present in the environment.
Eighty-four swab collections were performed on dust found on books in three libraries in the city of Cuiabá, state of Mato Grosso, Brazil. The material was seeded in Sabouraud agar and then observed for characteristics compatible with colonies with a creamy to mucous aspect; the material was then isolated in birdseed (Niger) agar and cultivated at a temperature of 37°C for 5 to 7 days. Identification of isolated colonies was performed by microscopic observation in fresh preparations dyed with India ink, additional tests performed on CGB (L-canavanine glycine bromothymol blue), urea broth, and carbohydrate assimilation tests (auxanogram).
Of the 84 samples collected from book dust, 18 (21.4%) were positive for Cryptococcus spp totalizing 41 UFC’s. The most frequently isolated species was C. gattii 15 (36.6%); followed by C. terreus, 12 (29.3%); C. luteolus 4 (9.8%); C. neoformans, and C. uniguttulatus 3 (7.3%), and C. albidus and C. humiculus with 2 (4.6%) of the isolates.
The high biodiversity of the yeasts of the Cryptococcus genus, isolated from different environmental sources in urban areas of Brazil suggests the possibility of individuals whose immune systems have been compromised or even healthy individuals coming into sources of fungal propagules on a daily bases throughout their lives. This study demonstrates the acquisition possible of cryptococcosis infection from dust in libraries.
Cryptococcus spp; Dust; Libraries; Air; Habitat
The Diesel Exhaust in Miners Study (DEMS) is an outstanding epidemiological project on the association between occupational diesel exhaust exposures, measured as long-term respirable elemental carbon (REC) estimates, and lung cancer mortality in a large cohort of US miners. Two articles published recently (Attfield et al. (J Natl Cancer Inst Epub, ), Silverman et al. (J Natl Cancer Inst Epub, )) dsescribed the epidemiological findings. These papers are expected to have considerable impact on the evaluation of the carcinogenic potential of diesel exhaust and, furthermore, on occupational and environmental limit value discussions related to diesel motor emissions and particle exposures. DEMS found remarkable exposure-response relationships between REC exposure estimates and lung cancer mortality - conditional on a pronounced effect of surface vs. underground work on lung cancer risk. If this risk factor is ignored the estimated REC-lung cancer association is attenuated substantially. The authors relied on this risk factor in their main analyses. However, this factor “surface/underground work” remained unexplained. The factor lead the authors to introduce unusual cross-product terms of location and smoking in adjustment procedures and even caused the authors to hypothesize that high REC exposures are protective against lung cancer excess risks due to smoking. To understand the reliability of these conclusions, we should ask basic questions about the data collection process in DEMS: Did the mortality follow-up procedures suffer from errors like those that affected the NCI formaldehyde cohort study? Are the REC and/or smoking data reliable, and are these data collected/constructed in such a way that the procedures allow valid comparisons between surface and underground workers? Without clarifying the issues raised in this Commentary the Diesel Exhaust in Miners Study remains to be difficult to interpret.
Diesel exhaust in miners study; Epidemiology; Lung cancer; Respirable elemental carbon
Bicycle traumata are very common and especially neurologic complications lead to disability and death in all stages of the life. This review assembles the most recent findings concerning research in the field of bicycle traumata combined with the factor of bicycle helmet use. The area of bicycle trauma research is by nature multidisciplinary and relevant not only for physicians but also for experts with educational, engineering, judicial, rehabilitative or public health functions. Due to this plurality of global publications and special subjects, short time reviews help to detect recent research directions and provide also information from neighbour disciplines for researchers. It can be stated that to date, that although a huge amount of research has been conducted in this area more studies are needed to evaluate and improve special conditions and needs in different regions, ages, nationalities and to create successful prevention programs of severe head and face injuries while cycling.
Focus was explicit the bicycle helmet use, wherefore sledding, ski and snowboard studies were excluded and only one study concerning electric bicycles remained due to similar motion structures within this review. The considered studies were all published between January 2010 and August 2011 and were identified via the online databases Medline PubMed and ISI Web of Science.
Bicycle helmet; Protection; Prevention; Accident; Trauma
Healthcare workers (HCW) are exposed to infectious agents. Disease surveillance is therefore needed in order to foster prevention.
The data of the compensation board that covers HCWs of non-governmental healthcare providers in Germany was analysed for a five-year period. For hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections, the period analysed was extended to the last 15 years. The annual rate of occupational infectious diseases (OIDs) per 100,000 employees was calculated. For needlestick injuries (NSI) a rate per 1,000 employees was calculated.
Within the five years from 2005 to 2009 a total of 384 HCV infections were recognised as OIDs (1.5/100,000 employees). Active TB was the second most frequent cause of an OID. While the numbers of HBV and HCV infections decreased, the numbers for active TB did not follow a clear pattern. Needlestick injuries (NSIs) were reported especially often at hospitals (29.9/1,000 versus 7.4/1,000 employees for all other HCWs).
Although they are declining, HCV infections remain frequent in HCWs, as do NSIs. Whether the reinforcement of the recommendations for the use of safety devices in Germany will prevent NSIs and therefore HCV infections should be closely observed.
Healthcare workers; Infections; Tuberculosis; Needlestick injuries; Blood-borne virus infections
Previous studies suggested that endocrine disruptors (ED) are toxic on preimplantation embryos and inhibit development of embryos in vitro culture. However, information about the toxicity of endocrine disruptors on preimplantation development of embryo in human reproductive environment is lacking.
Bisphenol A (BPA) and Aroclor 1254 (polychlorinated biphenyls) were used as endocrine disruptors in this study. Mouse 2-cell embryos were cultured in medium alone or vehicle or co-cultured with human endometrial epithelial layers in increasing ED concentrations.
At 72 hours the percentage of normal blastocyst were decreased by ED in a dose-dependent manner while the co-culture system significantly enhanced the rate and reduced the toxicity of endocrine disruptors on the embryonic development in vitro.
In conclusion, although EDs have the toxic effect on embryo development, the co-culture with human endometrial cell reduced the preimplantation embryo from it thereby making human reproductive environment protective to preimplantation embryo from the toxicity of endocrine disruptors.
Bisphenol A; Aroclor 1254; Mouse embryo; Human endometrial cells; Endocrine disruptors