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1.  Retrospective exposure assessment for a cohort study into respiratory effects of acid anhydrides 
OBJECTIVES: To estimate past exposure to phthalic (PA), trimellitic (TMA) and maleic anhydride (MA) in three alkyd resin and one cushioned flooring factory to estimate exposure-response relations in a retrospective cohort study. METHODS: Personal exposure measurements were carried out in 1992 and quantitative and qualitative information on past exposure and production processes were collected. Job titles were ranked by decreasing exposure and amalgamated into job categories and exposure groups. Multiplication factors for back calculating past exposure levels were estimated with past exposure data, or if no such data were available these factors were estimated by a panel of occupational hygienists. Exposure levels were back calculated starting with the exposure levels in 1992. RESULTS: High exposures to PA were estimated to have occurred among workers operating the PA melting pots in factory 1 (estimated exposure in 1960-9 was 2480 micrograms.m-3). Highest concentrations of TMA were estimated to have occurred among the ink mixers in factory 2 from 1979 to 1986 (554 micrograms.m-3). Exposure in most other job titles was thought to be fairly constant over time for PA, TMA, and MA. CONCLUSIONS: Exposure to acid anhydride at these factories has fallen during the period covered by the study. However, it is estimated that in only one job in factory 2 did past exposure to acid anhydride exceed the current occupational exposure standard. Accuracy of the estimated exposure is limited by a paucity of reliable past exposure data.
 
PMCID: PMC1757514  PMID: 9930091
2.  Safety in laboratories. 
British Medical Journal  1978;1(6119):1051.
PMCID: PMC1604014  PMID: 638594
3.  Research priorities in occupational medicine: a survey of United Kingdom personnel managers. 
A Delphi survey was carried out in an attempt to identify areas of priority in occupational health that should be targeted by research. Previously 53 occupational physicians identified and ranked these areas. These were then assessed by personel managers. There was considerable agreement on priorities between the two groups with musculoskeletal disorders and stress securing the highest ranking.
PMCID: PMC1128561  PMID: 8882122
4.  Morbidity survey of post mortem room staff. 
Journal of Clinical Pathology  1991;44(5):433-435.
A retrospective study of post mortem staff who had taken leave due to sickness was carried out over a 12 month period throughout England and Wales. Eight hundred and nineteen post mortem room personnel (representing a 57% response) replied to individual postal questionnaires regarding their sick leave of two days or more, for the period June 1985 to June 1986. Complete responses were available for 751. Post mortem room technical staff reported more mean days sickness per person (7.8) than either pathologists (1.6) or a control group of coroners' officers (3.9). The annual inception rate (frequency by spells) was also higher among technicians than the other two groups. Technical staff had more infectious disease (0.73 mean days of absence compared with pathologist (0.10) or coroners' officers (0.12] and more frequent absences due to cuts and lacerations.
PMCID: PMC496882  PMID: 2045507
5.  The Epping jaundice outbreak: a 24 year follow up. 
STUDY OBJECTIVE--The aim was to trace 84 cases of jaundice that occurred following accidental ingestion of methylene dianiline (MDA) in Epping in 1965, and to look at long term health effects. DESIGN--The original case notes of the cases were used to identify the patients. Subsequent tracing procedures included local general practitioners, the Central NHS Registry, electoral rolls, and company records. SETTING--This was a community based survey. MAIN RESULTS--The health status of 68 (81%) of the group was established with 18 deaths. Of the 50 cases known to be alive, 58% completed a health questionnaire. The causes of death were unremarkable except for one case of carcinoma of the biliary tract. Two surviving cases had suffered retinal pathology. Four other surviving cases had had a further, perhaps unrelated, episode of jaundice. CONCLUSIONS--Although the dose and route of administration in the epidemic differed from occupational exposure, this follow up study a generation on provides little, if any, evidence of long term health sequelae. Nevertheless, in the absence of well documented exposure and health effects data, such accidental poisonings with proven animal carcinogens warrant long term follow up. The identified cohort will be the subject of further study.
PMCID: PMC1059592  PMID: 1431699
7.  Occupational exposure to magnetic fields in relation to mortality from brain cancer among electricity generation and transmission workers. 
OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether the risks of mortality from brain cancer are related to occupational exposure to magnetic fields. METHODS: A total of 112 cases of primary brain cancer (1972-91) were identified from a cohort of 84,018 male and female employees of the (then) Central Electricity Generating Board and its privatised successor companies. Individual cumulative occupational exposures to magnetic fields were estimated by linking available computerised job history data with magnetic field measurements collected over 675 person-workshifts. Estimated exposure histories of the case workers were compared with those of 654 control workers drawn from the cohort (nested case-control study), by means of conditional logistic regression. RESULTS: For exposure assessments based on arithmetic means, the risk of mortality from brain cancer for subjects with an estimated cumulative exposure to magnetic fields of 5.4-13.4 microT.y v subjects with lower exposures (0.0-5.3 microT.y) was 1.04 (95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.60 to 1.80). The corresponding relative risk in subjects with higher exposures (> or = 13.5 microT.y) was 0.95 (95% CI 0.54 to 1.69). There was no indication of a positive trend for cumulative exposure and risk of mortality from brain cancer either when the analysis used exposure assessments based on geometric means or when the analysis was restricted to exposures received within five years of the case diagnosis (or corresponding period for controls). CONCLUSIONS: Although the exposure categorisation was based solely on recent observations, the study findings do not support the hypothesis that the risk of brain cancer is associated with occupational exposure to magnetic fields.
PMCID: PMC1128628  PMID: 9072027
8.  Modifiers of non-specific symptoms in occupational and environmental syndromes. 
Many occupational and environmental health hazards present as an increased reporting of non-specific symptoms such as headache, backache, eye and respiratory irritation, tiredness, memory problems, and poor concentration. The pattern and number of such symptoms is surprisingly constant from hazard to hazard suggesting that common psychological and social factors, not directly related to the exposure may be involved. A recent workshop (see acknowledgements) was held to review the pattern of symptoms in varying hazardous situations and the psychological mechanisms behind the genesis and maintenance of symptoms. The involvement of both direct physicochemical and psychological mechanisms in symptom generation and reporting in any situation was discussed and is reported here. A model that identifies the issues that need to be considered in any epidemiological study based on the incidence or prevalence of non-specific symptoms is proposed.
PMCID: PMC1128490  PMID: 8758029
11.  Are the respiratory health effects found in manufacturers of ceramic fibres due to the dust rather than the exposure to fibres? 
OBJECTIVES--To determine whether the respiratory symptoms and decrements in lung function found in manufacturers of ceramic fibres are related to exposure to the respirable fibre or inspirable mass constituents of the air in the working environment. METHODS--Cross sectional survey of all current European primary producers of ceramic fibre was carried out, with measurement of exposure to respiratory fibres by personal samplers that measured inspirable and total mass, together with a health survey with an expanded respiratory questionnaire and standardised measurement of lung function. Odds ratios were calculated for symptoms and current exposure by multiple logistic regression, and multiple linear regression coefficients for lung function related to cumulative exposures controlled for the effects of respirable fibre and inspirable mass separately and together. RESULTS--Significant effects of current exposure to both inspirable dust and respirable fibres were related to dry cough, stuffy nose, eye and skin irritation and breathlessness. The decrements found in smokers and to some extent in ex-smokers in forced expiratory volume in one second and forced expiratory flow from 25% to 75% of expiratory volume, seem to be related to the respirable fibres rather than the inspirable mass constituents of the environment. CONCLUSIONS--Current symptoms were related to both current exposure to inspirable dust and respirable fibre. The decrements in lung function were related to the fibre constituent of the exposure.
PMCID: PMC1128163  PMID: 7757162
12.  Study of the respiratory health of employees in seven European plants that manufacture ceramic fibres. 
OBJECTIVES--To study the relation between occupational exposure to ceramic fibres during manufacture and respiratory health. METHODS--The respiratory health of 628 current employees in the manufacture of ceramic fibres in seven European plants in three countries was studied with a respiratory questionnaire, lung function tests, and chest radiography. Simultaneous plant hygiene surveys measured subjects' current exposure to airborne ceramic fibres from personal samples with optical microscopy fibre counts. The measured exposures were combined with occupational histories to derive estimates of each subject's cumulative exposure to respirable fibres. Symptoms were related to current and cumulative exposure to ceramic fibres and lung function and findings from chest radiographs were related to cumulative exposure. RESULTS--The mean duration of employment was 10.2 years and mean (range) cumulative exposure was 3.84 (0-22.94) (f.ml-1.y). Eye and skin symptoms were frequent in all plants and increased significantly, as did breathlessness and wheeze, with increasing current exposure. Dry cough and stuffy nose were less common in the least exposed group but did not increase with increasing exposure. After adjustment for the effects of age, sex, height, smoking, and past occupational exposures to respiratory hazards, there was a significant decrease in both forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and forced midexpiratory flow related to cumulative exposure in current smokers (P < 0.05) and in FEV1 in ex-smokers (P < 0.05). Small opacities were found in 13% of the chest radiographs; their prevalence was not related to cumulative exposure to ceramic fibres. CONCLUSIONS--It is concluded that exposure to ceramic fibres is associated with irritant symptoms similar to those seen in other exposures to man made mineral fibres (MMMFs) and that cumulative exposure to respirable ceramic fibres may cause airways obstruction by promoting the effects of cigarette smoke.
PMCID: PMC1128162  PMID: 7757174
14.  Research priorities in occupational medicine: a survey of United Kingdom medical opinion by the Delphi technique. 
An attempt to achieve an agreed set of priorities for research in occupational medicine was undertaken by the Delphi technique. Fifty three senior practitioners of occupational medicine in academe (25) and industry or government (28) were canvassed about their views and choices for priority activity. Forty six (86%) responded to the initial enquiry and 48 (91%) provided rank order choices from a second, more detailed questionnaire. The first priority for more research on the natural history of work related ill health identified musculoskeletal disorders of the back and upper limbs followed by asthma, accidents, skin disorders, vibration induced disease, suicide and depression, and finally hearing loss. The second priority area was audit and particularly the need for its use in occupational health screening procedures. Environmental impact of industrial activity was third with the community health effects being more important than individual health effects. Stress related disease was fourth with emphasis on risk factors. The fifth area was neuropsychological effects of work exposures particularly the need for more research on diagnostic tests. Other assorted areas of concern were the cost effectiveness of occupational health, risk assessment, reproductive hazards, the effects of pharmacological agents, and the development of biomarkers as early evidence of an exposure effect. The remarkable degree of unanimity on the issues and choices and the general agreement between physicians from academe and industry on what constitute the priorities warrants further discussion and positive action.
PMCID: PMC1127971  PMID: 8199676
15.  Work related disease and injuries. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1991;303(6807):908-910.
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PMCID: PMC1671225  PMID: 1933008
18.  Severe postural hypotension following home canoe construction from polyester resins. 
Postgraduate Medical Journal  1984;60(705):497-498.
On two occasions a 36-year-old man developed severe postural hypotension and neurological signs after working with a polyester resin canoe building kit in an unventilated shed. It is likely that his recurrent illness was caused by styrene intoxication. Postural hypotension secondary to styrene exposure has not previously been reported.
PMCID: PMC2417945  PMID: 6463006
20.  Lung cancer mortality in nickel/chromium platers, 1946-95 
OBJECTIVES: To investigate mortality from lung cancer in nickel/chromium platers. METHODS: The mortality experience of a cohort of 1762 chrome workers (812 men, 950 women) from a large electroplating and light engineering plant in the Midlands, United Kingdom, was investigated for the period 1946-95. All subjects were first employed in chrome work at the plant during the period 1946-75, and had at least six months employment in jobs associated with exposure to chromic acid mist (hexavalent chromium). Detailed job histories were abstracted from original company personnel records and individual cumulative durations of employment in three types of chrome work were derived as time dependent variables (chrome bath work, other chrome work, any chrome work). Two analytical approaches were used--indirect standardisation and Poisson regression. RESULTS: Based on mortalities for the general population of England and Wales, male workers with some period of chrome bath work had higher lung cancer mortalities (observed deaths 40, expected deaths 25.41, standardised mortality ratio (SMR) 157, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 113 to 214, p < 0.01) than did other male chrome workers (observed 9, expected 13.70, SMR 66, 95% CI 30 to 125). Similar findings were shown for female workers (chrome bath workers: observed 15, expected 8.57, SMR 175, 95% CI 98 to 289, p = 0.06; other chrome workers: observed 1, expected 4.37, SMR 23, 95% CI 1 to 127). Poisson regression was used to investigate risks of lung cancer relative to four categories of cumulative duration of chrome bath work and four categories of cumulative duration of other chrome work (none, < 1 y, 1-4 y, > or = 5 y). After adjusting for sex, age, calendar period, year of starting chrome work, period from first chrome work, and employment status (still employed v left employment), there was a significant positive trend (p < 0.05) between duration of chrome bath work and risks of mortality for lung cancer. Relative to a risk of unity for those chrome workers without any period of chrome bath work, risks were 2.83 (95% CI 1.47 to 5.45), 1.61 (95% CI 0.75 to 3.44), and 4.25 (95% CI 1.83 to 9.87) for the second, third, and fourth exposure categories, respectively. Duration of other chrome work was not a useful predictor of risks of lung cancer. Similar findings for both variables were obtained when adjustment was made for sex and age only. Similar findings for both variables were obtained relative to risk of chrome nasal ulceration. CONCLUSIONS: The findings are consistent with the hypothesis that soluble hexavalent chromium compounds are potent human lung carcinogens.
 
PMCID: PMC1757572  PMID: 9624277
21.  Surveillance case definitions for work related upper limb pain syndromes 
OBJECTIVES: To establish consensus case definitions for several common work related upper limb pain syndromes for use in surveillance or studies of the aetiology of these conditions. METHODS: A group of healthcare professionals from the disciplines interested in the prevention and management of upper limb disorders were recruited for a Delphi exercise. A questionnaire was used to establish case definitions from the participants, followed by a consensus conference involving the core group of 29 people. The draft conclusions were recirculated for review. RESULTS: Consensus case definitions were agreed for carpal tunnel syndrome, tenosynovitis of the wrist, de Quervain's disease of the wrist, epicondylitis, shoulder capsulitis (frozen shoulder), and shoulder tendonitis. The consensus group also identified a condition defined as "non-specific diffuse forearm pain" although this is essentially a diagnosis made by exclusion. The group did not have enough experience of the thoracic outlet syndrome to make recommendations. CONCLUSIONS: There was enough consensus between several health professionals from different disciplines to establish case definitions suitable for use in the studies of several work related upper limb pain syndromes. The use of these criteria should allow comparability between studies and centres and facilitate research in this field. The criteria may also be useful in surveillance programmes and as aids to case management.
 
PMCID: PMC1757569  PMID: 9624281
22.  Risks of zoonoses in a veterinary service. 
A survey was undertaken among the veterinary staff of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food and the Institute for Research in Animal Diseases to estimate the distribution of occupationally acquired zoonoses in this population. A self-administered questionnaire was distributed to 1717 staff, 1625 (95%) of whom responded. It was observed that both laboratory and technical support staff were at risk from a variety of zoonotic infections, though generally to a lesser extent than veterinary surgeons. A history of injury while handling animals was reported frequently by veterinarians (45%). Accidental self-injection with vaccines was also commonly reported. It is suggested that both injury from animals and accidental self-injection are associated with the risk of zoonotic infection.
PMCID: PMC1495831  PMID: 6799124
24.  Survey of safety and health care in British medical laboratories. 
British Medical Journal  1977;1(6061):626-628.
A retrospective postal survey of 24 000 medical laboratory workers in England, Wales, and Scotland showed highly variable standards of safety and health care. Pre-employment health screening was offered to two-thirds of employees, the physicians being the least likely to be examined (15%). Scottish laboratories provided better safety control than English and Welsh laboratories, while Public Health Service Laboratories had a better record than National Health Service establishments. Mouth pipetting is still practised in 65% of English and Welsh laboratories, and the use of protective clothing is rarely compulsory. The servicing of safety cabinets is often inadequate. Known and suspected carcinogens are still apparently used in a few laboratories (2-10%). In view of the wide variation in standards among laboratories, urgent consideration should be given to establishing regulations for codes of safe practice rather than relying merely on recommendations as at present.
PMCID: PMC1605286  PMID: 843842
25.  Incidence of tuberculosis, hepatitis, brucellosis, and shigellosis in British medical laboratory workers. 
British Medical Journal  1976;1(6012):759-762.
A retrospective postal survey of 21 000 medical laboratory workers in England and Wales showed 18 new cases of pulmonary tuberculosis in 1971, a five-times increased risk of acquiring the disease compared with the general population. Technicians were at greatest risk, especially if they worked in morbid anatomy departments. Of the 35 cases of hepatitis, the technicians were again the occupational group most likely to acquire the disease. Microbiology staff were twice as likely to report shigellosis as those in other pathology divisions but only one case of brucellosis was reported in the whole laboratory population. A similar survey carried out in 1973 of 3000 Scottish medical laboratory workers corroborates the results from England and Wales. Medical laboratory workers continue to experience a considerable risk of developing an occupationally acquired infection. Improvements in staff safety and health care seem to be necessary.
PMCID: PMC1639170  PMID: 1260318

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