Retroperitoneal fibrosis (RPF) is an uncommon disease with unknown causation in most cases. The pathognomonic finding is a fibrous mass covering the abdominal aorta and the ureters. Our aim was to clarify the possible role of asbestos exposure in the development of RPF. The hypothesis was based on the ability of asbestos to cause fibrosis in pulmonary and pleural tissue.
We undertook a case-control study of 43 patients with the disease (86% of eligible cases) treated in three university hospital districts of Finland in 1990-2001. For every patient, five population-based controls were selected, matched by age, sex, and central hospital district. We assessed asbestos exposure and medical history using a postal questionnaire and a personal interview. Of the 215 eligible controls, 179 (83%) participated in the study.
The age-standardised incidence of RPF was 0.10 (95% CI 0.07-0.14) per 100?000 person-years. The disease was strongly associated with asbestos exposure. The odds ratio (OR) was 5.54 (1.64-18.65) for less than 10 fibre-years of asbestos exposure and 8.84 (2.03-38.50) for 10 or more fibre-years, the attributable fraction being 82% and 89%, respectively. Other risk factors were previous use of ergot derivates (OR 9.92 [1.63-60.26]), abdominal aortic aneurysm (OR 6.73 [0.81-56.08]), and smoking for more than 20 pack-years (OR 4.73 [1.28-17.41]).
Our results show that occupational asbestos exposure is an important causal factor for RPF. For patients with work-related asbestos exposure, RPF should be considered an occupational disease.
Association between lowered endothelial function measured by peripheral arterial tonometry and cardio-metabolic risk factors - a cross-sectional study of Finnish municipal workers at risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The aim of this cross-sectional study was to determine the association between lowered endothelial function measured by peripheral arterial tonometry (PAT) and cardio-metabolic risk factors. The study population consisted of Finnish municipal workers who were at risk of diabetes or cardiovascular disease and who had expressed a need to change their health behaviour.
A total of 312 middle-aged municipal workers underwent a physical medical examination and anthropometry measurements. Levels of total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting glucose, glycated haemoglobin, and high sensitivity C-reactive protein were taken from the blood samples. PAT measured the increase in digital pulse volume amplitude during reactive hyperemia, and the index of endothelial function, F-RHI, was defined as the ratio of post-deflation amplitude to baseline amplitude.
In the linear regression model, male sex was associated with lower F-RHI. In sex-adjusted linear regression models, each of the variables; waist circumference, fasting glucose, glycated hemoglobin, triglycerides, body fat percentage, body mass index, current smoking, and impaired fasting glucose or diabetes were separately associated with lower F-RHI, and HDL cholesterol and resting heart rate were associated with higher F-RHI.HDL cholesterol, sex, body mass index, and current smoking entered a stepwise multivariable regression model, in which HDL cholesterol was associated with higher F-RHI, and smoking, male sex and body mass index were associated with lower F-RHI. This model explains 28.3% of the variability in F-RHI.
F-RHI is associated with several cardio-metabolic risk factors; low level of HDL cholesterol, male sex, overweight and smoking being the most important predictors of a lowered endothelial function. A large part of variation in F-RHI remains accounted for by unknown factors.
Cites: Circulation. 2008 May 13;117(19):2467-7418458169
To examine the long-term effects on work ability among patients previously diagnosed with occupational asthma (OA) or work-exacerbated asthma (WEA) or symptoms in relation to workplace dampness.
A questionnaire follow-up was used to study 1,098 patients (of whom 87 % were female) examined because of a suspected occupational respiratory disease caused by building dampness and mold. Self-rated work ability and early withdrawal from work were the two outcomes of the study. As determinants, we investigated the influence of the asthma diagnosis given in the initial examinations (OA or WEA), the number of persistent indoor air symptoms, and the psychosocial factors at work.
With a mean follow-up of 7.8 years, 40 % of the OA patients, under 65 years of age, were outside worklife versus 23 % of the WEA patients and 15 % of the patients with only upper respiratory symptoms at baseline. The diagnosis of OA was associated with a nearly sixfold risk for early withdrawal from work in a comparison with a reference group with upper respiratory symptoms. A perceived poor social climate at work and poor experiences with supervisory co-operation were associated with impaired work ability outcomes. Those with multiple, long-term indoor air symptoms considerably more often perceived their work ability to be poor when compared with those with less significant symptoms.
Adverse work ability outcomes are associated with asthma in relation to workplace dampness. The study raises the need for effective preventive measures in order to help workers with indoor air symptoms sustain their work ability.
Among workers employed at a nickel refinery in Harjavalta, Finland an increased risk of lung and sinus cancer has been demonstrated in two previous studies. The current study adds 16 more years of follow-up to these studies.
A total of 1,115 persons exposed to nickel and 194 non-exposed workers in the Harjavalta nickel smelter and refinery were followed up for cancer from 1967 to 2011 through the Finnish Cancer Registry.
The total number of cancer cases in men was 251 (Standardized incidence ratio (SIR) 1.05) and in women 12 (SIR 1.22). In the most nickel-exposed work site (refinery), there were 14 lung cancers (SIR 2.01) and 3 sinonasal cancers (SIR 26.7, 95%).
There is inadequate evidence for the carcinogenicity of cobalt and cobalt compounds in humans. Consequently, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has evaluated cobalt metal without tungsten carbide as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B). The aim of the study was to assess the risk of cancer among workers employed in a Finnish cobalt plant since the beginning of production in 1968.
The study cohort consisted of all males employed by the Finnish cobalt plant for at least a year during 1968-2004. The follow-up for cancer was performed by studying the files of the Finnish Cancer Registry, using personal identity codes as a key. The cohort was divided into subcohorts by exposure levels. Standardised incidence ratios (SIRs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) were calculated as ratios of the observed numbers of cancer cases and the numbers expected on the basis of incidence rates in the population of the same region.
The follow-up cohort consisted of 995 men with 26,083 person-years. During the follow-up period, 92 cases of cancer were diagnosed (SIR 1.00, 95% CI 0.81-1.22), six of which were lung cancer cases (SIR 0.50; 95% CI 0.18-1.08). The only cancer type with increased incidence was tongue cancer (three cases, SIR 7.39; 95% CI 1.52-21.6). We observed no dose-response effect across the different exposure levels and the incidence of any cancer type.
The results suggest that occupational exposure to cobalt is not associated with an increased overall cancer risk or lung cancer risk among cobalt workers. Because of the small number of cancer cases the results must be interpreted with caution.
Occupational radiation exposure was estimated, and the cancer incidence among physicians working with radiation was compared to that of unexposed physicians.
A cohort of 1312 physicians was identified from the Finnish occupational radiation exposure registry. Radiation exposure data were obtained from 1970 to 2001 on the basis of individual dosimeters. Never-monitored Finnish physicians (N=15 821) were used as a reference group, identified from census data of Statistics Finland. Incident cancer cases were identified by record linkage with the Finnish Cancer Registry.
The cumulative radiation dose exceeded the recording level (0.3-3.0 mSv during a 3-month period for 1029 radiation-exposed physicians (59.8%). Six percent of the radiologists had received a cumulative dose of 50 mSv or more. Altogether there were 41 cancers observed among the radiation-exposed physicians and 998 cases found in the never-monitored group. Standardized incidence ratios (SIR) for all cancers were comparable with those of the general population among physicians monitored for radiation [SIR 1.0, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.7-1.4] and other physicians (SIR 1.0, 95% CI 1.0-1.1). For specific cancer sites, a slightly elevated risk of female breast cancer was found among monitored physicians when compared with other physicians (rate ratio 1.7, 95% CI 1.0-3.1). No obvious dose-response relationship was found for the overall cancer incidence.
According to the results from a nationwide cohort, occupational exposure to medical radiation is not a strong risk factor for cancer among physicians. Possible excess risk could not be reliably demonstrated even after the follow-up of a nationwide cohort for up to 30 years.
This study describes workers' exposure to fine and ultrafine particles in the production chain of ferrochromium and stainless steel during sintering, ferrochromium smelting, stainless steel melting, and hot and cold rolling operations. Workers' personal exposure to inhalable dust was assessed using IOM sampler with a cellulose acetate filter (AAWP, diameter 25 mm; Millipore, Bedford, MA). Filter sampling methods were used to measure particle mass concentrations in fixed locations. Particle number concentrations and size distributions were examined using an SMPS+C sequential mobile particle sizer and counter (series 5.400, Grimm Aerosol Technik, Ainring, Germany), and a hand-held condensation particle counter (CPC, model 3007, TSI Incorporated, MN). The structure and elemental composition of particles were analyzed using TEM-EDXA (TEM: JEM-1220, JEOL, Tokyo, Japan; EDXA: Noran System Six, Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., Madison,WI). Workers' personal exposure to inhalable dust averaged 1.87, 1.40, 2.34, 0.30, and 0.17 mg m(-3) in sintering plant, ferrochromium smelter, stainless steel melting shop, hot rolling mill, and the cold rolling mill, respectively. Particle number concentrations measured using SMPS+C varied from 58 × 10(3) to 662 × 10(3) cm(-3) in the production areas, whereas concentrations measured using SMPS+C and CPC3007 in control rooms ranged from 24 × 10(3) to 243 × 10(3) cm(-3) and 5.1 × 10(3) to 97 × 10(3) cm(-3), respectively. The elemental composition and the structure of particles in different production phases varied. In the cold-rolling mill non-process particles were abundant. In other sites, chromium and iron originating from ore and recycled steel scrap were the most common elements in the particles studied. Particle mass concentrations were at the same level as that reported earlier. However, particle number measurements showed a high amount of ultrafine particles, especially in sintering, alloy smelting and melting, and tapping operations. Particle number concentration and size distribution measurements provide important information regarding exposure to ultrafine particles, which cannot be seen in particle mass measurements.
European Directive 2002/44/EC defines employers' responsibilities in the risk management of hand-arm vibration (HAV). However, the directive is still not completely implemented in all risk industries. The aim of our study was to determine whether it is possible to improve the recognition and management of the risks of HAV at workplaces with a one-year information campaign. A questionnaire on opinions and measures for controlling HAV exposure at workplaces was sent to all occupational safety representatives and occupational safety managers in the construction and metal industry in Finland (n=1887) and once again to those who responded to the first questionnaire (n=961) one year after the campaign. The campaign increased recognition of HAV in risk assessment from 57.0% to 68.3% (p=.001), increased measures to decrease exposure to HAV from 54.6% to 64.2% (p=.006) and increased the number of programmes to control the risks due to HAV (p
Many drugs are vestibulotoxic and may impair balance. Styrene is both ototoxic and neurotoxic, but its effect on balance has been little studied. We evaluate the effect of low concentrations of styrene on balance among Finnish fiberglass-reinforced plastic boat manufacturers.
From 252 male employees, we measured postural stability and urine mandelic and phenylglycolic acid concentrations. Individual exposure to styrene in breathing zone was measured for 148 workers. For analysis, 88 matched pairs were selected.
The postural stability of laminators was aggravated compared with nonlaminators. This impairment was observed in young workers, and it worsened with age.
This study documents styrene as an additional risk factor in impaired postural stability, with the negative effects of the styrene exposure starting already in younger workers.
Aims: Frequent attendance in healthcare services is associated with ill-health and chronic illnesses. More information is needed about the phenomenon's connection with disability pensions (DPs). Methods: The study group comprised 59,676 patients divided into occasional- (1yFAs) and persistent frequent attenders (pFAs) and non-frequent attenders (non-FAs). Odds ratios for DP were analysed for these groups taking into account preceding sickness absence days. The awarded DPs were obtained from the Finnish Centre for Pensions and data on primary care visits were obtained from Pihlajalinna, a nationwide occupational healthcare provider. Results: 1yFAs and pFAs have more DPs than non-FAs. During follow-up, 14.9% of pFAs, 9.6% of 1yFAs and 1.6% of non-FAs had a DP decision of any kind. pFAs receive more partial and fixed-term decisions than the other groups and most permanent DPs are granted to 1yFAs. Musculoskeletal disorders are the most common reason for illness-based retirement in all groups but 1yFAs and pFAs have proportionally more mental disorders leading to DP. The group of non-FAs, on the other hand, has more DPs granted based on neoplasms. Both 1yFAs and pFAs have an increased risk of DP but the effect is diluted after taking into account preceding sick-leave. Conclusions: Frequent attendance of healthcare services, both occasional and persistent, is associated with increased risk of future DP. The association is linked to increased sickness absences. Frequent attenders should be identified and their rehabilitative needs evaluated. Frequency of consultationcould be used in selecting candidates for early rehabilitation before sickness absences develop.