To assess the extent of indoor air problems in office environments in Finland.
Complaints and symptoms related to the indoor environment experienced by office workers were collected from 122 workplaces in 1996-99 by using the modified Indoor Air Questionnaire established by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. Altogether 11 154 employees took part in the survey.
The most common problems were dry air (35% of the respondents), stuffy air (34%), dust or dirt in the indoor environment (25%), and draught (22%). The most common work related symptoms were irritated, stuffy, or runny nose (20%), itching, burning, or irritation of the eyes (17%), and fatigue (16%). Women reported indoor air problems and work related symptoms more often than men. Allergic persons and smokers reported indoor air problems more often, and experienced work related symptoms more often than non-allergic persons and non-smokers.
The complaints and work related symptoms associated with indoor air problems were common in office workers. The present questionnaire is a suitable tool for the occupational health personnel in investigating indoor air problems and the data of the survey can be used as a reference when the results of a survey at work are being analysed.
In the United States (US) and Europe, surveillance based on calls to poison control centres has identified new hazards and evolving exposure trends. In Canada, the value of poison control centre calls as a tool for health hazard surveillance is largely unrecognized.
This preliminary survey was undertaken to describe current operational characteristics and surveillance capacities at Canadian poison control centres and to determine potential for developing a Canadian poison control centre collaborative network.
A structured quantitative-qualitative survey was administered to medical directors and clinical supervisors at the five Canadian poison control centres between March and May, 2012.
All five Canadian poison control centres operate 24/7 with each serving more than one province/territory. Annual call volumes range from 10,000 to 58,000. Data analysis is limited to detection of previously unrecognized hazards and short-term event-based adverse health monitoring. Currently no centre maintains systematic ongoing collection, integration and analysis of data. Constraints on personnel, resources and funding were identified as barriers to increasing capacity to provide and analyse call data.
The potential exists to use Canadian poison control data as a novel source of public health surveillance. That they serve as sentinels for new or unexpected exposure events, have real-time electronic call-record capacity and demonstrate an interest in developing and sharing their call-record information supports their integration into existing public health networks.
In this study, we were able to separate buildings with high and low prevalence of sick building syndrome (SBS) using principal component analysis. The prevalence of SBS was defined by the presence of at least one typical skin, mucosal and general (headache and fatigue) symptom. Data from the Swedish Office Illness Study describing the presence and level of chemical compounds in outdoor, supply, and room air, respectively, were evaluated together with information about the buildings in six models. When all data were included the most complex model was able to separate 71% of the high prevalence buildings from the low prevalence buildings. The most important variable that separates the high prevalence buildings from the low prevalence buildings was a more frequent occurrence or a higher concentration of compounds with shorter retention time in the high prevalence buildings. Elevated relative humidity in supply and room air and higher levels of total volatile organic compounds in outdoor and supply air were more common in high prevalence buildings. Ten building variables also contributed to the separation of the two classes of low and high prevalence buildings.
In recent years, the prevalence of work-related asthma has increased. Therefore, more attention needs to be paid to occupational allergens and their avoidance and control in workplaces. However, risk assessment of occupational allergen exposure is difficult because the relationship between exposure concentration, sensitization, and symptoms has not been fully established. This paper introduces a systematic and comprehensive approach to assessing and managing allergen risks at workplaces.
This approach relies on the cooperation and active communication during the whole process between management, employees, and health care personnel, with the assistance of experts when needed. In addition to gathering background information, including allergic symptoms, through questionnaires addressed to the management and employees, hazard identification is also processed in the workplace through observations and measurements. The methods generally recommended to reduce allergen exposure are compared with those used in the workplace. The process is to be carefully planned and documented to allow later follow-up and re-evaluation.
The multi-faceted approach encompasses several risk assessment techniques, and reveals the prevalence of work-related allergic symptoms. The process effectively focuses on the potential means for controlling allergen exposure.
Based on this approach, the synopsis on the critical points that require implementation of effective control measures can be presented.
This subanalysis of the Canadian Human Activity Pattern Survey examines environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure in non-smoking respondents relative to age, sex, socioeconomic status and prevalence of asthma. 2,381 respondents (response rate 64.5%) from Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Saint John completed a 24-hour recall time-activity diary. For each activity and location, respondents were asked, "was there any smoking during the activity?" Among non-smoking adults, youth, children and asthmatics, the rates of ETS exposure were 32%, 34%, 30% and 42% respectively. Regarding the location of exposure, adults reported ETS exposure in various locations (work, bars and restaurants), including home. Children experienced the most exposure at home, primarily between 4 p.m. and midnight. Adults reported ETS mainly in the living room (16%) and vehicles (13%); for children, the living room (22%) and the bedroom (13%) were the most common locations. Determining characteristic time and location patterns for ETS exposure underpins educational strategies to help non-smokers avoid ETS exposure.
Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is among the most common environmental health risks, with a striking and immediate biological response and increased disease risk. Exposure studies have looked mostly at worksite or home exposures, whereas total exposure levels at the population level are rarely reported. This study examined ETS exposure at work, at home, and during leisure time in a cross-sectional population sample of working-age adults. Our aim was to monitor changes in ETS exposure from 1992 to 2002. More detailed information on duration of exposure, distribution of exposure sites, and patterns of exposure was obtained in 2002. Data were based on Finland's national population chronic disease risk-factor surveys (conducted every 5 years). Total sample size varied from 8,000 to 13,500. The survey includes a self-administered questionnaire about ETS exposure at different sites. The proportion of nonsmoking persons exposed to ETS declined throughout the study period among both men and women. In 2002, 5.9% of male and 3.6% of female nonsmokers were exposed to ETS 1 hour or more per day, whereas 5.8% of men and 1.7% women were exposed less than 1 hour daily. Worksite exposure was more common among younger age groups of both sexes, but nonsmoking women in older age groups received more exposure at home than at worksites. Policy developments on ETS should aim to protect the whole population from ETS in all environments given that health risks from ETS often persist at home and in leisure environments. Total exposure levels should be studied to assess the health impacts of ETS.
Home environmental exposures may aggravate asthma. Few population-based studies have investigated the relationship between asthma control in children and home environmental exposures.
Identify home environmental exposures associated with poor control of asthma among asthmatic children less than 12 years of age in Montreal (Quebec, Canada).
This cross-sectional population-based study used data from a respiratory health survey of Montreal children aged 6 months to 12 years conducted in 2006 (n = 7980). Asthma control was assessed (n = 980) using an adaptation of the Canadian asthma consensus report clinical parameters. Using log-binomial regression models, prevalence ratios (PRs) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) were estimated to explore the relationship between inadequate control of asthma and environmental home exposures, including allergens, irritants, mold, and dampness indicators. Subjects with acceptable asthma control were compared with those with inadequate disease control.
Of 980 children with active asthma in the year prior to the survey, 36% met at least one of the five criteria as to poor control of their disease. The population's characteristics found to be related with a lack of asthma control were younger age, history of parental atopy, low maternal education level, foreign-born mothers, and tenant occupancy. After adjustments, children living along high-traffic density streets (PR, 1.35; 95% CI, 1.00-1.81) and those with their bedroom or residence at the basement level (PR, 1.30; 95% CI, 1.01-1.66) were found to be at increased risk of poor asthma control.
Suboptimal asthma control appears to be mostly associated with traffic, along with mold and moisture conditions, the latter being a more frequent exposure and therefore having a greater public health impact.
The investigation was undertaken in the town of Novodvinsk to assess multiple environmental population health risks from exposures to carcinogens by inhalation, oral, and dermal routes. Local exposure factors were studied in a longitudinal study by interviewing 1963 subjects according to a questionnaire. The levels of 11 carcinogens were estimated in 4 environmental media: ambient air; drinking water soil, and foodstuffs. The risk assessment model comprised three exposure routes: inhalation, oral, and dermal. Lifetime average daily doses and factors of the carcinogenic potential were used for risk assessment. Total cancer risk (TCR) across all the exposure routes was 1.4x10@-3. The contribution of oral, inhalation, and dermal routes to TCR was 94.8% (1.4x10@-3), 4.8% (6.8x10@-5), and 0.4% (5.4x10@-6), respectively. The leading environmental media for carcinogens are foodstuffs, whose contribution to the oral route was 81.3% (1.1x10@-3), and drinking water whose contribution was 18.7% (2.5x10@-4). The major contaminants contributing to cancer risk were arsenic (1. 1x10@-3), nickel (2.5x10@-4), and chloroform (3. 7x10@-5).
Since the beginning of the 1960's the Department of Environmental Hygiene of the Karolinska Institute and of the National Swedish Environment Protection Board has maintained a registry on about 10.000 same-sexed twin-pairs born 1886-1925. The registry has been used for studies of morbidity and mortality against the background of certain external risk factors, especially smoking. Supported by the Research Committee of the National Swedish Environment Protection Board, the establishment of a new twin registry covering younger age cohorts was initiated in 1970. The main purposes of this registry are to evaluate individuals' adaptation to changes in the environment and to study the effects of the environment on human health. Moreover, the registry is intended to be usable in obtaining specific target groups with a certain exposure. The main reason for the establishment of a twin registry instead of using a representative sample from the entire population is that a twin population offers some additional analytical possibilities. With twins composing the study group, it is possible to assess the role of the genetic factor for different variables. In addition, the twin approach provides opportunities of analyzing the subjects as matched pairs--the twin control method. This method involves the evaluation of the effect of one factor, to which one twin in the pair is exposed and the other not, while other variables are kept constant in a far-reaching way, e.g. sex, age, genetic composition, childhood, environment, etc. A twin registry can also be employed as a general epidemiological base line registry. For such purposes, the twin methodology is ignored, and the effects of some agent, for example having to do with environmental hygiene, are studied on all of the individuals, independently of their twin pair qualities. The registry is then in many regards comparable with a registry of non-twins. The first step in creating the Swedish twin registry was to compile information on names and addresses. By means of searches in birth records for the years 1926-1949 and birth notices for the years 1950-1967, registration was made of ca 110 000 twin individuals, which constitute virtually all twins accounted for in official statistics. Of these, ca 13 800 were stillbirths or infant deaths. Before the search for the twins' current addresses was begun, all pairs in which at least one individual was dead were eliminated. Such was the case in ca 10 250 pairs. The address search hence covered about 89 500 individuals and was carried out with the assistance of two location procedures. The first was applied to those born between 1926 and 1949 and the second to those born between 1950 and 1967. The result was that in ca 96% of the pairs both members (37 590 pairs) or one member (4 853 pairs) could be found. It could be anticipated that of the latter pairs 1 450 would not be useable due to the death of one of the twins. The data collection has been carried out via a mail questionnaire which consists of the following main areas of inquiry: medication, annoyance experienced because of factors in the general and occupational environments, smoking and drinking habits, physical activity, food habits, psychosocial status, occupational and educational history, conditions of place of dwelling and certain background data. Before the questionnaire was sent out to the twin population, it was tested in a pilot investigation, which purported to study the effectiveness of the data collection procedure and to elucidate the validity of some of the individual questions. The pilot investigation showed an external nonresponse rate of 18%. Regarding the ability of the subjects to answer the questions, it was revealed that only a few of the question categories presented problems which gave rise to minor changes in the questionnaire. Comparison between the answers on the questionnaire and a parallel interview showed a high degree of agreement. Thus the questionnaire was considered satisfactory. The principal data collection was carried out during the period January - May 1973 and during the period December 1973 - February 1974. Of the 42 294 individuals included in the data collection, 3 339 could not be contacted because of death, illness etc. Responses have been received from 32 374 individuals, which corresponds to 83% of the subjects who could be contacted. Regarded as a population of twin pairs, 3 262 pairs have not been utilizable for similar reasons. The total number of pairs in which both have answered the questionnaire is 13 811, corresponding to a little over 77%. There are three versions of the twin registry; a birth registry, an address registry and a questionnaire registry. The birth registry contains birth data from about 110,000 twin individuals. The address registry contains in addition current information as to name and address as well as current and past census registration. The questionnaire registry, which comprises twins born 1926-1958, moreover contains information obtained on the basis of the mail questionnaire.