Objectives: We describe the elaboration and sensitivity analyses of a quantitative job-exposure matrix (SYN-JEM) for respirable crystalline silica (RCS). The aim was to gain insight into the robustness of the SYN-JEM RCS estimates based on critical decisions taken in the elaboration process.
Methods: SYN-JEM for RCS exposure consists of three axes (job, region, and year) based on estimates derived from a previously developed statistical model. To elaborate SYN-JEM, several decisions were taken: i.e. the application of (i) a single time trend; (ii) region-specific adjustments in RCS exposure; and (iii) a prior job-specific exposure level (by the semi-quantitative DOM-JEM), with an override of 0 mg/m3 for jobs a priori defined as non-exposed. Furthermore, we assumed that exposure levels reached a ceiling in 1960 and remained constant prior to this date. We applied SYN-JEM to the occupational histories of subjects from a large international pooled community-based case–control study. Cumulative exposure levels derived with SYN-JEM were compared with those from alternative models, described by Pearson correlation (Rp) and differences in unit of exposure (mg/m3-year). Alternative models concerned changes in application of job- and region-specific estimates and exposure ceiling, and omitting the a priori exposure ranking.
Results: Cumulative exposure levels for the study subjects ranged from 0.01 to 60 mg/m3-years, with a median of 1.76 mg/m3-years. Exposure levels derived from SYN-JEM and alternative models were overall highly correlated (Rp > 0.90), although somewhat lower when omitting the region estimate (Rp = 0.80) or not taking into account the assigned semi-quantitative exposure level (Rp = 0.65). Modification of the time trend (i.e. exposure ceiling at 1950 or 1970, or assuming a decline before 1960) caused the largest changes in absolute exposure levels (26–33% difference), but without changing the relative ranking (Rp = 0.99).
Conclusions: Exposure estimates derived from SYN-JEM appeared to be plausible compared with (historical) levels described in the literature. Decisions taken in the development of SYN-JEM did not critically change the cumulative exposure levels. The influence of region-specific estimates needs to be explored in future risk analyses.
exposure assessment;; silica;; general population;; occupational;; retrospective; silica
: Inspectors from the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have been collecting industrial hygiene samples since 1972 to verify compliance with Permissible Exposure Limits. Starting in 1979, these measurements were computerized into the Integrated Management Information System (IMIS). In 2010, a dataset of over 1 million personal sample results analysed at OSHA’s central laboratory in Salt Lake City [Chemical Exposure Health Data (CEHD)], only partially overlapping the IMIS database, was placed into public domain via the internet. We undertook this study to inform potential users about the relationship between this newly available OSHA data and IMIS and to offer insight about the opportunities and challenges associated with the use of OSHA measurement data for occupational exposure assessment.
: We conducted a literature review of previous uses of IMIS in occupational health research and performed a descriptive analysis of the data recently made available and compared them to the IMIS database for lead, the most frequently sampled agent.
: The literature review yielded 29 studies reporting use of IMIS data, but none using the CEHD data. Most studies focused on a single contaminant, with silica and lead being most frequently analysed. Sixteen studies addressed potential bias in IMIS, mostly by examining the association between exposure levels and ancillary information. Although no biases of appreciable magnitude were consistently reported across studies and agents, these assessments may have been obscured by selective under-reporting of non-detectable measurements. The CEHD data comprised 1 450 836 records from 1984 to 2009, not counting analytical blanks and erroneous records. Seventy eight agents with >1000 personal samples yielded 1 037 367 records. Unlike IMIS, which contain administrative information (company size, job description), ancillary information in the CEHD data is mostly analytical. When the IMIS and CEHD measurements of lead were merged, 23 033 (39.2%) records were in common to both IMIS and CEHD datasets, 10 681 (18.2%) records were only in IMIS, and 25 012 (42.6%) records were only in the CEHD database. While IMIS-only records represent data analysed in other laboratories, CEHD-only records suggest partial reporting of sampling results by OSHA inspectors into IMIS. For lead, the percentage of non-detects in the CEHD-only data was 71% compared to 42% and 46% in the both-IMIS-CEHD and IMIS-only datasets, respectively, suggesting differential under-reporting of non-detects in IMIS.
: IMIS and the CEHD datasets represent the biggest source of multi-industry exposure data in the USA and should be considered as a valuable source of information for occupational exposure assessment. The lack of empirical data on biases, adequate interpretation of non-detects in OSHA data, complicated by suspected differential under-reporting, remain the principal challenges to the valid estimation of average exposure conditions. We advocate additional comparisons between IMIS and CEHD data and discuss analytical strategies that may play a key role in meeting these challenges.
database; exposure reconstruction; IMIS; occupational hygiene
Isocyanate chemicals essential for polyurethane production are widely used industrially, and are increasingly found in consumer products. Asthma and other adverse health effects of isocyanates are well-documented and exposure surveillance is crucial to disease prevention. Hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI)-specific serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) was evaluated as an exposure biomarker among workers at a US Air Force Air Logistics Center, which includes a large aircraft maintenance facility.
HDI-specific IgG (HDI-IgG) titers in serum samples (n = 74) were measured using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay based upon the biuret form of HDI conjugated to human albumin. Information on personal protective equipment (PPE), work location/tasks, smoking, asthma history, basic demographics, and HDI skin exposure was obtained through questionnaire.
HDI-specific serum IgG levels were elevated in n = 17 (23%) of the workers studied. The prevalence and/or end-titer of the HDI-IgG was significantly (P < 0.05) associated with specific job titles, self-reported skin exposure, night-shift work, and respirator use, but not atopy, asthma, or other demographic information. The highest titers were localized to specific worksites (C-130 painting), while other worksites (generator painting) had no or few workers with detectable HDI-IgG.
HDI-specific immune responses (IgG) provide a practical biomarker to aid in exposure surveillance and ongoing industrial hygiene efforts. The strategy may supplement current air sampling approaches, which do not assess exposures via skin, or variability in PPE use or effectiveness. The approach may also be applicable to evaluating isocyanate exposures in other settings, and may extend to other chemical allergens.
biomarker; exposure; HDI; hygiene; occupational
Carbonaceous aerosols play an important role in climate, visibility, air quality, and human health effects, and they have been routinely monitored in workplace and environmental settings. Different thermal analysis methods have been applied to determine the carbon content of carbonaceous aerosols. Good agreement between results for total carbon (TC) generally has been found, but the organic and elemental carbon (OC and EC) fractions determined by different methods often disagree. Measurement uncertainty is mainly due to pyrolysis and charring of OC sample components. Lack of reference materials has impeded progress on method standardization and understanding method biases. A relatively simple method for generating matched filter sets having known OC–EC contents is reported. After generation and analysis of each set to confirm agreement between filters, the filter sets were distributed to six laboratories for an interlaboratory comparison. Analytical results indicate a uniform carbon distribution for the filter sets and good agreement between the participating laboratories. Relative standard deviations (RSDs) for mean TC (OC + EC), OC, and EC results for seven laboratories were <10, 11, and 12% (respectively). Except for one EC result (RSD = 16%), RSDs reported by individual laboratories for TC, OC, and EC were <12%. The method of filter generation is generally applicable and reproducible. Depending on the application, different filter loadings and types of OC materials can be employed. Matched filter sets prepared by the described approach can be used for determining the accuracy of OC–EC methods and thereby contribute to method standardization.
black carbon; carbonaceous aerosol; elemental carbon; organic carbon; particulate matter; ultrafine
Usability is an important but often overlooked aspect of personal protective equipment technology. As part of a worksite intervention trial of a new technology for prevention of noise-induced hearing loss that allows workers to monitor their noise exposure inside of hearing protection on a daily basis, we studied the usability of the daily noise exposure monitoring device.
We conducted surveys and focus groups for workers enrolled in an intervention trial of daily use of a noise dosimeter with a microphone fitted inside of an individual’s hearing protector (QuietDose). Volunteers completed a baseline and annual survey that included questions about perceived usability of the QuietDose device. Responses to usability questions on the annual survey were abstracted and compared to whether the individual was still using the device. Finally, 16 in-depth focus groups were conducted with subjects to qualitatively explore common themes regarding the usability of the technology.
Reported problems downloading data or starting and stopping the monitoring device and/or ear discomfort were associated with whether individuals chose to continue monitoring and downloading their noise exposure data. Perceived benefits of the technology included the perception that it could help preserve hearing.
A novel technology that allows workers to record noise exposures inside of hearing protectors on a daily basis has been developed. Current users of the device report positive perception about how the device is helping them prevent noise-induced hearing loss. However, in its current version, users reported a number of usability barriers that are associated with stopping use of the device. These barriers to use should be addressed as the technology progresses.
Field measurements of personal and area dust and endotoxin concentrations were obtained while agricultural workers performed two work tasks that have been previously unreported: hog load-out and swine building power washing. Hog load-out involves moving hogs from their pens in finishing buildings into a truck for transport to a meat processor. High pressure power washing is conducted for sanitation purposes after a building has been emptied of hogs to remove surface and floor debris. This debri consists of feed, feces, and hog dander as dust or an encrusted form. The hog load-out process necessarily increases pig activity which is known to increase airborne dust concentrations. An unintended consequence of power washing is that the material covering surfaces is forcibly ejected into the atmosphere, creating the potential for a highly concentrated aerosol exposure to workers. The load-out process resulted in a median personal inhalable mass concentration of 7.14 mg m−
3 and median endotoxin concentration of 12 150 endotoxin units (EU) m−
3. When converted to an 8-h time-weighted average for a ‘total’ sampler, one of the 19 samples exceeded a regulatory limit of 15 mg m−
3. An impinger was used to sample power washing endotoxin concentrations, which resulted in a median personal concentration of 40 350 EU m−
3. These concentrations were among the highest found in the literature for any occupation. With the lack of engineering controls present to reduce airborne contaminant concentrations in swine buildings, either respirator use or a reduction in exposure time is recommended while performing these tasks.
endotoxin; impinger; finishing building; power washing; swine
More than 500 million ocean freight container units are shipped annually between countries and continents. Residual levels of fumigants, as well as naturally occurring off-gassing chemicals emanating from the goods, constitute safety risks, which may affect uniformed workers upon entering the container. The aim of this study was to assess workers’ exposure during stripping of containers and is the first study of its kind. First, an experimental tracer gas method was investigated to determine its usefulness to approximate real exposures from gaseous fumigants and off-gassing volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Nitrous oxide was injected and left to distribute in the closed containers. The distribution of the tracer gas and initial (arrival) concentrations of off-gassing volatiles were measured prior to opening the containers. Second, personal exposure (breathing zone) and work zone air monitoring of both tracer gas and VOCs were carried out during stripping. Adsorbent tubes, bag samples, and direct-readings instruments (photoionization detector and Fourier transform infrared spectrometry) were used. The distribution studies with nitrous oxide, and the high correlation between the former and VOCs (r
2 ~ 0.8) during stripping, showed that the tracer gas method may well be used to approximate real exposures in containers. The average breathing zone and work zone concentrations during stripping of naturally ventilated 40-foot containers were 1–7% of the arrival concentrations; however, peaks up to 70% were seen during opening. Even if average exposures during stripping are significantly lower than arrival concentrations, they may still represent serious violations of occupational exposure limits in high-risk containers. The results from this and previous studies illustrate the need to establish practices for the safe handling of ocean freight containers. Until comprehensive recommendations are in place, personnel that need to enter such containers should, in addition to appropriate personal protective equipment, have access to equipment for measuring contaminants and for applying forced ventilation when necessary.
confined space; exposure assessment; fumigation; prevention; sea container
Automobile mechanics have been exposed to asbestos in the past, mainly due to the presence of chrysotile asbestos in brakes and clutches. Despite the large number of automobile mechanics, little is known about the non-malignant respiratory diseases observed in this population. The aim of this retrospective multicenter study was to analyze the frequency of pleural and parenchymal abnormalities on HRCT in a population of automobile mechanics.
The study population consisted of 103 automobile mechanics with no other source of occupational exposure to asbestos, referred to three occupational health departments in the Paris area for systematic screening of asbestos–related diseases. All subjects were examined by HRCT and all images were reviewed separately by two independent readers, with further consensus in the case of disagreement. Multiple logistic regression models were constructed to investigate factors associated with pleural plaques.
Pleural plaques were observed in 5 cases (4.9%) and interstitial abnormalities consistent with asbestosis were observed in 1 case. After adjustment for age, smoking status, and a history of non-asbestos-related respiratory diseases, multiple logistic regression models showed a significant association between the duration of exposure to asbestos and pleural plaques.
The asbestos exposure experienced by automobile mechanics may lead to pleural plaques. The low prevalence of non-malignant asbestos-related diseases, using a very sensitive diagnostic tool, is in favor of a low cumulative exposure to asbestos in this population of workers.
Adult; Asbestos; toxicity; Automobiles; Female; Humans; Logistic Models; Lung Diseases; epidemiology; radiography; Male; Mechanics; Middle Aged; Occupational Diseases; epidemiology; radiography; Occupational Exposure; adverse effects; Paris; Pleural Diseases; epidemiology; radiography; Prevalence; Retrospective Studies; Time Factors; Tomography, X-Ray Computed; methods; Young Adult; asbestos; pleural plaques; automobile mechanics; HRCT
The selection of disposable nitrile exam gloves is complicated by (i) the availability of several types or formulations, (ii) product variability, and (iii) an inability of common quality control tests to detect small holes in the fingers. Differences in polymer formulation (e.g. filler and plasticizer/oil content) and tensile properties are expected to account for much of the observed variability in performance.
This study evaluated the tensile properties and integrity (leak failure rates) of two glove choices assumed to contain different amounts of plasticizers/oils. The primary aims were to determine if the tensile properties and integrity differed and if associations existed among these factors. Additional physical and chemical properties were evaluated.
Six clean room and five low-modulus products were evaluated using the American Society for Testing and Materials Method D412 and a modified water-leak test to detect holes capable of passing a virus or chemical agent.
Significant differences in the leak failure rates and tensile properties existed between the two glove types (P ≤ 0.05). The clean room gloves were about three times more likely to have leak failures (chi-square; P = 0.001). No correlation was observed between leak failures and tensile properties. Solvent extract, an indication of added plasticizer/oil, was not associated with leak failures. However, gloves with a maximum modulus <4 MPa or area density (AD) <11 g cm−2 were about four times less likely to leak.
On average, the low-modulus gloves were a better choice for protection against aqueous chemical or biological penetration. The observed variability between glove products indicated that glove selection cannot rely solely on glove type or manufacturer labeling. Measures of modulus and AD may aid in the selection process, in contrast with common measures of tensile strength and elongation at break.
chemical protective clothing; exam gloves; penetration; PPE; water-leak test
A new type of detector which we call the Catalytic Activity Aerosol Monitor (CAAM) was investigated towards its capability to detect traces of commonly used industrial catalysts in ambient air in quasi real time. Its metric is defined as the catalytic activity concentration (CAC) expressed per volume of sampled workplace air. We thus propose a new metric which expresses the presence of nanoparticles in terms of their functionality - in this case a functionality of potential relevance for damaging effects - rather than their number, surface, or mass concentration in workplace air. The CAAM samples a few micrograms of known or anticipated airborne catalyst material onto a filter first and then initiates a chemical reaction which is specific to that catalyst. The concentration of specific gases is recorded using an IR sensor, thereby giving the desired catalytic activity. Due to a miniaturization effort, the laboratory prototype is compact and portable. Sensitivity and linearity of the CAAM response were investigated with catalytically active palladium and nickel nano-aerosols of known mass concentration and precisely adjustable primary particle size in the range of 3–30nm. With the miniature IR sensor, the smallest detectable particle mass was found to be in the range of a few micrograms, giving estimated sampling times on the order of minutes for workplace aerosol concentrations typically reported in the literature. Tests were also performed in the presence of inert background aerosols of SiO2, TiO2, and Al2O3. It was found that the active material is detectable via its catalytic activity even when the particles are attached to a non-active background aerosol.
background distinction; catalytic activity concentration; engineered nanoparticles; functionality based detection; quasi real time
In a large population-based study among adults in northern Europe the relation between occupational exposure and new-onset asthma was studied.
The study comprised 13 284 subjects born between 1945 and 1973, who answered a questionnaire 1989–1992 and again 1999–2001. Asthma was defined as ‘Asthma diagnosed by a physician’ with reported year of diagnose. Hazard ratios (HR), for new-onset adult asthma during 1980–2000, were calculated using a modified job-exposure matrix as well as high-risk occupations in Cox regression models. The analyses were made separately for men and women and were also stratified for atopy.
During the observation period there were 429 subjects with new-onset asthma with an asthma incidence of 1.3 cases per 1000 person-years for men and 2.4 for women. A significant increase in new-onset asthma was seen for men exposed to plant-associated antigens (HR = 3.6; 95% CI [confidence interval] = 1.4–9.0), epoxy (HR = 2.4; 95% CI = 1.3–4.5), diisocyanates (HR = 2.1; 95% CI = 1.2–3.7) and accidental peak exposures to irritants (HR = 2.4; 95% CI = 1.3–4.7). Both men and women exposed to cleaning agents had an increased asthma risk. When stratifying for atopy an increased asthma risk were seen in non-atopic men exposed to acrylates (HR = 3.3; 95% CI = 1.4–7.5), epoxy compounds (HR = 3.6; 95% CI = 1.6–7.9), diisocyanates and accidental peak exposures to irritants (HR = 3.0; 95% CI = 1.2–7.2). Population attributable risk for occupational asthma was 14% for men and 7% for women.
This population-based study showed that men exposed to epoxy, diisocyanates and acrylates had an increased risk of new-onset asthma. Non-atopics seemed to be at higher risk than atopics, except for exposure to high molecular weight agents. Increased asthma risks among cleaners, spray painters, plumbers, and hairdressers were confirmed.
Atopics and non-atopics; high molecular weight agent; high-risk occupations; irritating agents; job-exposure matrix; low molecualr weight agent; occupational asthma; population attributable risk
Cooking fumes contain aldehydes, alkanoic acids, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and heterocyclic compounds. The inhalation of cooking fumes entails a risk of deleterious health effects. The aim of this study was to see if the inhalation of cooking fumes alters the expression of inflammatory reactions in the bronchial mucosa and its subsequent systemic inflammatory response in blood biomarkers.
Twenty-four healthy volunteers stayed in a model kitchen on two different occasions for 2 or 4h. On the first occasion, there was only exposure to normal air, and on the second, there was exposure to controlled levels of cooking fumes. On each occasion, samples of blood, exhaled air, and exhaled breath condensate (EBC) were taken three times in 24h and inflammatory markers were measured from all samples.
There was an increase in the concentration of the d-dimer in blood from 0.27 to 0.28mg ml–1 on the morning after exposure to cooking fumes compared with the levels the morning before (P-value = 0.004). There was also a trend of an increase in interleukin (IL)-6 in blood, ethane in exhaled air, and IL-1β in EBC after exposure to cooking fumes. In a sub-analysis of 12 subjects, there was also an increase in the levels of ethane—from 2.83 parts per billion (ppb) on the morning before exposure to cooking fumes to 3.53 ppb on the morning after exposure (P = 0.013)—and IL-1β—from 1.04 on the morning before exposure to cooking fumes to 1.39 pg ml–1 immediately after (P = 0.024).
In our experimental setting, we were able to unveil only small changes in the levels of inflammatory markers in exhaled air and in blood after short-term exposure to moderate concentrations of cooking fumes.
cooking fume; exposure; human experiment; inflammation; inhalation
Conventional abrasive sanding generates high concentrations of particles. Depending on the substrate being abraded and exposure duration, overexposure to the particles can cause negative health effects ranging from respiratory irritation to cancer. The goal of this study was to understand the differences in particle emissions between a conventional random orbital sanding system and a self-generated vacuum random orbital sanding system with attached particle filtration bag. Particle concentrations were sampled for each system in a controlled test chamber for oak wood, chromate painted (hexavalent chromium) steel panels, and gel-coated (titanium dioxide) fiberglass panels using a Gesamtstaub-Probenahmesystem (GSP) sampler at three different locations adjacent to the sanding. Elevated concentrations were reported for all particles in the samples collected during conventional sanding. The geometric mean concentration ratios for the three substrates ranged from 320 to 4640 times greater for the conventional sanding system than the self-generated vacuum sanding system. The differences in the particle concentration generated by the two sanding systems were statistically significant with the two sample t-test (P < 0.0001) for all three substances. The data suggest that workers using conventional sanding systems could utilize the self-generated vacuum sanding system technology to potentially reduce exposure to particles and mitigate negative health effects.
GSP sampler; hexavalent chromium; oak wood; random orbital sanding; titanium dioxide
Dustiness may be defined as the propensity of a powder to form airborne dust by a prescribed mechanical stimulus; dustiness testing is typically intended to replicate mechanisms of dust generation encountered in workplaces. A novel dustiness testing device, developed for pharmaceutical application, was evaluated in the dustiness investigation of 27 fine and nanoscale powders. The device efficiently dispersed small (mg) quantities of a wide variety of fine and nanoscale powders, into a small sampling chamber. Measurements consisted of gravimetrically determined total and respirable dustiness. The following materials were studied: single and multiwalled carbon nanotubes, carbon nanofibers, and carbon blacks; fumed oxides of titanium, aluminum, silicon, and cerium; metallic nanoparticles (nickel, cobalt, manganese, and silver) silicon carbide, Arizona road dust; nanoclays; and lithium titanate. Both the total and respirable dustiness spanned two orders of magnitude (0.3–37.9% and 0.1–31.8% of the predispersed test powders, respectively). For many powders, a significant respirable dustiness was observed. For most powders studied, the respirable dustiness accounted for approximately one-third of the total dustiness. It is believed that this relationship holds for many fine and nanoscale test powders (i.e. those primarily selected for this study), but may not hold for coarse powders. Neither total nor respirable dustiness was found to be correlated with BET surface area, therefore dustiness is not determined by primary particle size. For a subset of test powders, aerodynamic particle size distributions by number were measured (with an electrical low-pressure impactor and an aerodynamic particle sizer). Particle size modes ranged from approximately 300nm to several micrometers, but no modes below 100nm, were observed. It is therefore unlikely that these materials would exhibit a substantial sub-100nm particle contribution in a workplace.
aerosolization; dustiness; dust generation; emissions; exposure; handling; nanomaterial; nanoparticle; nanoscale; powders; ultrafine; workplace
Endotoxin exposure associated with organic dust exposure has been studied in several industries. Coffee cherries that are dried directly after harvest may differ in dust and endotoxin emissions to those that are peeled and washed before drying. The aim of this study was to measure personal total dust and endotoxin levels and to evaluate their determinants of exposure in coffee processing factories.
Using Sidekick Casella pumps at a flow rate of 2l/min, total dust levels were measured in the workers’ breathing zone throughout the shift. Endotoxin was analyzed using the kinetic chromogenic Limulus amebocyte lysate assay. Separate linear mixed-effects models were used to evaluate exposure determinants for dust and endotoxin.
Total dust and endotoxin exposure were significantly higher in Robusta than in Arabica coffee factories (geometric mean 3.41mg/m3 and 10 800 EU/m3 versus 2.10mg/m3 and 1400 EU/m3, respectively). Dry pre-processed coffee and differences in work tasks explained 30% of the total variance for total dust and 71% of the variance for endotoxin exposure. High exposure in Robusta processing is associated with the dry pre-processing method used after harvest.
Dust and endotoxin exposure is high, in particular when processing dry pre-processed coffee. Minimization of dust emissions and use of efficient dust exhaust systems are important to prevent the development of respiratory system impairment in workers.
coffee dust; coffee processing factories; endotoxin; exposure determinants
Occupational exposure limits (OELs) together with determined airborne exposures are used in risk assessment based managements of occupational exposures to prevent occupational diseases. In most countries, OELs have only been set for few protein-containing aerosols causing IgE-mediated allergies. They comprise aerosols of flour dust, grain dust, wood dust, natural rubber latex, and the subtilisins, which are proteolytic enzymes. These aerosols show dose-dependent effects and levels have been established, where nearly all workers may be exposed without adverse health effects, which are required for setting OELs. Our aim is to analyse prerequisites for setting OELs for the allergenic protein-containing aerosols. Opposite to the key effect of toxicological reactions, two thresholds, one for the sensitization phase and one for elicitation of IgE-mediated symptoms in sensitized individuals, are used in the OEL settings. For example, this was the case for flour dust, where OELs were based on dust levels due to linearity between flour dust and its allergen levels. The critical effects for flour and grain dust OELs were different, which indicates that conclusion by analogy (read-across) must be scientifically well founded. Except for subtilisins, no OEL have been set for other industrial enzymes, where many of which are high volume chemicals. For several of these, OELs have been proposed in the scientific literature during the last two decades. It is apparent that the scientific methodology is available for setting OELs for proteins and protein-containing aerosols where the critical effect is IgE sensitization and IgE-mediated airway diseases.
airway allergy; prevention; risk assessment; standard setting
This investigation aims to explore determinants of exposure to particle size-specific welding fume. Area sampling of ultrafine particles (UFP) was performed at 33 worksites in parallel with the collection of respirable particles. Personal sampling of respirable and inhalable particles was carried out in the breathing zone of 241 welders. Median mass concentrations were 2.48 mg m−3 for inhalable and 1.29 mg m−3 for respirable particles when excluding 26 users of powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs). Mass concentrations were highest when flux-cored arc welding (FCAW) with gas was applied (median of inhalable particles: 11.6 mg m−3). Measurements of particles were frequently below the limit of detection (LOD), especially inside PAPRs or during tungsten inert gas welding (TIG). However, TIG generated a high number of small particles, including UFP. We imputed measurements
exposure; inhalable particles; manganese; respirable particles; UFP; welding fume
We describe an outbreak of sudden health problems in workers at a Danish grass seed plant after exposure to a particularly dusty lot of grass seeds. The seeds are called problematic seeds. The association between development of organic dust toxic syndrome (ODTS) and the handling of grass seeds causing exposure was assessed in a four-step model: (i) identification of exposure source, (ii) characterization of the emission of bioaerosols from the problematic and reference seeds, (iii) personal and stationary exposure measurement at the plant and (iv) repeated health examinations. The grass seeds were identified as the exposure source; the emissions of some bioaerosol components were up to 107 times higher from the problematic seeds than from reference seeds. Cleaning of the seeds was not enough to sufficiently reduce the high emission from the problematic seeds. Emission in terms of dust was 3.4 times as high from the problematic cleaned seeds as from cleaned reference seeds. The personal exposure reached 3 × 105 endotoxin units m−3, 1 × 106 colony-forming units (cfu) of thermophilic actinomycetes m−3, 8 × 105 cfu of Aspergillus fumigatus m−3 and 9 × 106 hyphal fragments m−3. Several workers working with the problematic seeds had symptoms consistent with ODTS. The most severe symptoms were found for the workers performing the tasks causing highest exposure. Respiratory airway protection proved efficient to avoid development of ODTS. Work with reference seeds did not cause workers to develop ODTS. Exposure was during work with the problematic seeds higher than suggested occupational exposure limits but lower than in studies where researchers for some minutes have repeated a single task expected to cause ODTS. In this study, many different bioaerosol components were measured during a whole working day. We cannot know, whether it is the combination of different bioaerosol components or a single component which is responsible for the development of ODTS. In conclusion, workers developed specific health symptoms due to the high bioaerosol exposure and were diagnosed with ODTS. Exposure to high concentrations of endotoxin, actinomycetes, fungi, hyphal fragments, β-glucan, and A. fumigatus occurred when working with a dusty lot of grass seed. Suspicion should be elicited by seeds stored without being properly dried and by seeds producing more dust than usually.
endotoxin; hyphal fragments; (1 → 3)-β-D-glucan; ODTS; toxic alveolitis
The association between workplace bullying and psychotropic drug use is not well established. This study was aimed at exploring the association between workplace bullying, and its characteristics, and psychotropic drug use, and studying the mediating role of physical and mental health.
The study population consisted of a random sample of 3132 men and 4562 women of the working population in the South-East of France. Workplace bullying, evaluated using the validated instrument elaborated by Leymann, and psychotropic drug use, as well as covariates, were measured using a self-administered questionnaire. Covariates included age, marital status, presence of children, education, occupation, working hours, night work, physico-chemical exposures at work, self-reported health, and depressive symptoms. Statistical analysis was performed using logistic regression analysis, and was carried out separately for men and women.
Workplace bullying was strongly associated with psychotropic drug use. Past exposure to bullying increased the risk for this use. The more frequent and the longer the exposure to bullying, the stronger the association with psychotropic drug use. Observing bullying on someone else at the workplace was associated with psychotropic drug use. Adjustment for covariates did not modify the results. Additional adjustment for self-reported health and depressive symptoms reduced the magnitude of the associations, especially for men.
The association between bullying and psychotropic drug use was found to be significant and strong, and was partially mediated by physical and mental health.
psychotropic drug use; workplace bullying; mental health; self-reported health
Exposure to respirable elemental carbon (REC), a component of diesel exhaust (DE), was assessed for an epidemiologic study investigating the association between DE and mortality, particularly from lung cancer, among miners at eight mining facilities from the date of dieselization (1947–1967) through 1997. To provide insight into the quality of the estimates for use in the epidemiologic analyses, several approaches were taken to evaluate the exposure assessment process and the quality of the estimates. An analysis of variance was conducted to evaluate the variability of 1998–2001 REC measurements within and between exposure groups of underground jobs. Estimates for the surface exposure groups were evaluated to determine if the arithmetic means (AMs) of the REC measurements increased with increased proximity to, or use of, diesel-powered equipment, which was the basis on which the surface groups were formed. Estimates of carbon monoxide (CO) (another component of DE) air concentrations in 1976–1977, derived from models developed to predict estimated historical exposures, were compared to 1976–1977 CO measurement data that had not been used in the model development. Alternative sets of estimates were developed to investigate the robustness of various model assumptions. These estimates were based on prediction models using: (i) REC medians rather AMs, (ii) a different CO:REC proportionality than a 1:1 relation, and (iii) 5-year averages of historical CO measurements rather than modeled historical CO measurements and DE-related determinants. The analysis of variance found that in three of the facilities, most of the between-group variability in the underground measurements was explained by the use of job titles. There was relatively little between-group variability in the other facilities. The estimated REC AMs for the surface exposure groups rose overall from 1 to 5 μg m−3 as proximity to, and use of, diesel equipment increased. The alternative estimates overall were highly correlated (∼0.9) with the primary set of estimates. The median of the relative differences between the 1976–1977 CO measurement means and the 1976–1977 estimates for six facilities was 29%. Comparison of estimated CO air concentrations from the facility-specific prediction models with historical CO measurement data found an overall agreement similar to that observed in other epidemiologic studies. Other evaluations of components of the exposure assessment process found moderate to excellent agreement. Thus, the overall evidence suggests that the estimates were likely accurate representations of historical personal exposure levels to DE and are useful for epidemiologic analyses.
diesel exhaust; elemental carbon; exposure assessment; mining
Generic job-exposure matrices (JEMs) are often used in population-based epidemiologic studies to assess occupational risk factors when only the job and industry information of each subject is available. JEM ratings are often based on professional judgment, are usually ordinal or semi-quantitative, and often do not account for changes in exposure over time. We present an empirical Bayesian framework that combines ordinal subjective JEM ratings with benzene measurements. Our aim was to better discriminate between job, industry, and time differences in exposure levels compared to using a JEM alone.
We combined 63 221 short-term area air measurements of benzene exposure (1954–2000) collected during routine health and safety inspections in Shanghai, China, with independently developed JEM intensity ratings for each job and industry using a mixed-effects model. The fixed-effects terms included the JEM intensity ratings for job and industry (both ordinal, 0–3) and a time trend that we incorporated as a b-spline. The random-effects terms included job (n = 33) and industry nested within job (n = 399). We predicted the benzene concentration in two ways: (i) a calibrated JEM estimate was calculated using the fixed-effects model parameters for calendar year and JEM intensity ratings; (ii) a job-/industry-specific estimate was calculated using the fixed-effects model parameters and the best linear unbiased predictors from the random effects for job and industry using an empirical Bayes estimation procedure. Finally, we applied the predicted benzene exposures to a prospective population-based cohort of women in Shanghai, China (n = 74 942).
Exposure levels were 13 times higher in 1965 than in 2000 and declined at a rate that varied from 4 to 15% per year from 1965 to 1985, followed by a small peak in the mid-1990s. The job-/industry-specific estimates had greater differences between exposure levels than the calibrated JEM estimates (97.5th percentile/2.5th percentile exposure level, BGR95B: 20.4 versus 3.0, respectively). The calibrated JEM and job-/industry-specific estimates were moderately correlated in any given year (Pearson correlation, rp = 0.58). We classified only those jobs and industries with a job or industry JEM exposure probability rating of 3 (>50% of workers exposed) as exposed. As a result, 14.8% of the subjects and 8.7% of the employed person-years in the study population were classified as benzene exposed. The cumulative exposure metrics based on the calibrated JEM and job-/industry-specific estimates were highly correlated (rp = 0.88).
We provide a useful framework for combining quantitative exposure data with expert-based exposure ratings in population-based studies that maximized the information from both sources. Our framework calibrated the ratings to a concentration scale between ratings and across time and provided a mechanism to estimate exposure when a job/industry group reported by a subject was not represented in the exposure database. It also allowed the job/industry groups’ exposure levels to deviate from the pooled average for their respective JEM intensity ratings.
benzene; job-exposure matrix; mixed-effects models; retrospective exposure assessment
Objectives: To address questions surrounding noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) from variable noise, we have been evaluating noise exposures and changes in hearing in a prospective cohort of construction workers (representing eight trades) and controls. In this paper, we develop and explore several long-term exposure estimates for cohort members.
Methods: We followed cohort members between 1999 and 2009 and interviewed them approximately annually to obtain a detailed work history for the previous subject-interval while also collecting tests of hearing sensitivity. Over the same period, we also collected a sample of full-shift average noise measurements and activity information. We used data from these two sources to develop various exposure estimates for each subject for specific subject intervals and for the duration of the study. These estimates included work duration, trade-mean (TM)-equivalent continuous exposure level (LEQ), task-based (TB) LEQ, a hybrid LEQ combining TB and subjective information, and an estimate of noise exposure ‘peakiness’.
Results: Of the 456 subjects enrolled in the study, 333 had at least 2 interviews and met several inclusion criteria related to hearing sensitivity. Depending on the metric used, between one-third and three-quarters of 1310 measured full-shift noise exposures exceeded permissible and recommended exposure limits. Hybrid and TB exposure estimates demonstrated much greater variability than TM estimates. Work duration and estimates of exposure peakiness showed poor agreement with average exposures, suggesting that these metrics evaluate different aspects of exposure and may have different predictive value for estimating NIHL.
Conclusions: Construction workers in the cohort had subject-interval and study-average exposures which present a substantial potential risk of NIHL. In a subsequent paper, we will use these estimates to evaluate the exposure–response relationship between noise and NIHL.
construction; exposure assessment; exposure variability; noise
Objectives: To identify and quantify determinants of captan exposure among 74 private orchard pesticide applicators in the Agricultural Health Study (AHS). To adjust an algorithm used for estimating pesticide exposure intensity in the AHS based on these determinants and to compare the correlation of the adjusted and unadjusted algorithms with urinary captan metabolite levels.
Methods: External exposure metrics included personal air, hand rinse, and dermal patch samples collected from each applicator on 2 days in 2002–2003. A 24-h urine sample was also collected. Exposure determinants were identified for each external metric using multiple linear regression models via the NLMIXED procedure in SAS. The AHS algorithm was adjusted, consistent with the identified determinants. Mixed-effect models were used to evaluate the correlation between the adjusted and unadjusted algorithm and urinary captan metabolite levels.
Results: Consistent determinants of captan exposure were a measure of application size (kilogram of captan sprayed or application method), wearing chemical-resistant (CR) gloves and/or a coverall/suit, repairing spray equipment, and product formulation. Application by airblast was associated with a 4- to 5-fold increase in exposure as compared to hand spray. Exposure reduction to the hands, right thigh, and left forearm from wearing CR gloves averaged ∼80%, to the right and left thighs and right forearm from wearing a coverall/suit by ∼70%. Applicators using wettable powder formulations had significantly higher air, thigh, and forearm exposures than those using liquid formulations. Application method weights in the AHS algorithm were adjusted to nine for airblast and two for hand spray; protective equipment reduction factors were adjusted to 0.2 (CR gloves), 0.3 (coverall/suit), and 0.1 (both).
Conclusions: Adjustment of application method, CR glove, and coverall weights in the AHS algorithm based on our exposure determinant findings substantially improved the correlation between the AHS algorithm and urinary metabolite levels.
agriculture; captan; dermal exposure—pesticides, determinants of exposure; exposure assessment—mixed models; orchards; pesticide exposure; variance components
Background: In epidemiologic studies that rely on professional judgment to assess occupational exposures, the raters’ accurate assessment is vital to detect associations. We examined the influence of the type of questionnaire, type of industry, and type of rater on the raters’ ability to reliably and validly assess within-industry differences in exposure. Our aim was to identify areas where improvements in exposure assessment may be possible.
Methods: Subjects from three foundries (n = 72) and three textile plants (n = 74) in Shanghai, China, completed an occupational history (OH) and an industry-specific questionnaire (IQ). Six total dust measurements were collected per subject and were used to calculate a subject-specific measurement mean, which was used as the gold standard. Six raters independently ranked the intensity of each subject’s current job on an ordinal scale (1–4) based on the OH alone and on the OH and IQ together. Aggregate ratings were calculated for the group, for industrial hygienists, and for occupational physicians. We calculated intra-class correlation coefficients (ICCs) to evaluate the reliability of the raters. We calculated the correlation between the subject-specific measurement means and the ratings to evaluate the raters’ validity. Analyses were stratified by industry, type of questionnaire, and type of rater. We also examined the agreement between the ratings by exposure category, where the subject-specific measurement means were categorized into two and four categories.
Results: The reliability and validity measures were higher for the aggregate ratings than for the ratings from the individual raters. The group’s performance was maximized with three raters. Both the reliability and validity measures were higher for the foundry industry than for the textile industry. The ICCs were consistently lower in the OH/IQ round than in the OH round in both industries. In contrast, the correlations with the measurement means were higher in the OH/IQ round than in the OH round for the foundry industry (group rating, OH/IQ: Spearman rho = 0.77; OH: rho = 0.64). No pattern by questionnaire type was observed for the textile industry (group rating, Spearman rho = 0.50, both assessment rounds). For both industries, the agreement by exposure category was higher when the task was reduced to discriminating between two versus four exposure categories.
Conclusions: Assessments based on professional judgment may reduce misclassification by using two or three raters, by using questionnaires that systematically collect task information, and by defining intensity categories that are distinguishable by the raters. However, few studies have the resources to use multiple raters and these additional efforts may not be adequate for obtaining valid subjective ratings. Thus, improving exposure assessment approaches for studies that rely on professional judgment remain an important research need.
dust; exposure assessment; foundry industry; population-based studies; professional judgment; reliability; textile industry; validity
Objectives: US commercial airline pilots, like all flight crew, are at increased risk for specific cancers, but the relation of these outcomes to specific air cabin exposures is unclear. Flight time or block (airborne plus taxi) time often substitutes for assessment of exposure to cosmic radiation. Our objectives were to develop methods to estimate exposures to cosmic radiation and circadian disruption for a study of chromosome aberrations in pilots and to describe workplace exposures for these pilots.
Methods: Exposures were estimated for cosmic ionizing radiation and circadian disruption between August 1963 and March 2003 for 83 male pilots from a major US airline. Estimates were based on 523 387 individual flight segments in company records and pilot logbooks as well as summary records of hours flown from other sources. Exposure was estimated by calculation or imputation for all but 0.02% of the individual flight segments’ block time. Exposures were estimated from questionnaire data for a comparison group of 51 male university faculty.
Results: Pilots flew a median of 7126 flight segments and 14 959 block hours for 27.8 years. In the final study year, a hypothetical pilot incurred an estimated median effective dose of 1.92 mSv (absorbed dose, 0.85 mGy) from cosmic radiation and crossed 362 time zones. This study pilot was possibly exposed to a moderate or large solar particle event a median of 6 times or once every 3.7 years of work. Work at the study airline and military flying were the two highest sources of pilot exposure for all metrics. An index of work during the standard sleep interval (SSI travel) also suggested potential chronic sleep disturbance in some pilots. For study airline flights, median segment radiation doses, time zones crossed, and SSI travel increased markedly from the 1990s to 2003 (Ptrend < 0.0001). Dose metrics were moderately correlated with records-based duration metrics (Spearman’s r = 0.61–0.69).
Conclusions: The methods developed provided an exposure profile of this group of US airline pilots, many of whom have been exposed to increasing cosmic radiation and circadian disruption from the 1990s through 2003. This assessment is likely to decrease exposure misclassification in health studies.
circadian disruption; cosmic radiation; exposure assessment; flight crew; pilots
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