Anthropogenic acute chemical exposures have become an important socioeconomic and environmental factor on the national, regional and global level. They present an actual or potential danger to vital activity and health of large population groups and normal operation of the Biosphere and natural components. Hence a problem of prevention and elimination of acute technogenic exposures hazardous for human health has expanded beyond the medical competence and grown to a major environmental issue.
Substitution for a harmful chemical implies that the desired function is maintained without using the harmful chemical in question. Improvement can be achieved if a less harmful chemical can be used or the same function obtained by changing the process and eliminating the harmful chemical agent. In 1982, Denmark introduced an authority regulation requiring substitution if functional and economical alternatives exist. This paper summarizes the results of 162 examples of substitution investigated by the Danish Occupational Health Services. The identification and implementation of substitution alternatives is described as an iterative process with seven distinct steps. Several tools that are useful in evaluating alternatives are described, including Hansen solubility parameters and vapor hazard ratios. In addition to the technical issues surrounding substitution, this paper describes the social interactions necessary to include all affected individuals, along with those having the proper expertise in the decision-making process. The use of the described methods may result in a safer work-place by eliminating certain hazardous chemicals or practices that have historically been used in specific industries.
Comparative research of environmental attitudes has concentrated on adults of Western countries, whereas knowledge of environmental consciousness of East European people is modest. This article compares anxiety that teenagers in Helsinki, Moscow and Tallinn express about environmental hazards and their health effects. The data (Helsinki, N = 1396; Moscow, N = 618; Tallinn, N = 1268) were collected in schools by questionnaires from pupils between 13 and 18 years in 1994-1995. Air pollution, water pollution and survival of plant and animal species were considered most worrying environmental threats in every city. Environmental concern was usually highest in Moscow, but the effects of pollution on an individual's health worried Estonian teenagers most. The worry was most consistent in Moscow, where sex, class level or opinion of the state of one's own living environment did not usually have an effect on attitudes. Finnish girls and pupils in higher school classes were environmentally more conscious than boys or younger teenagers. In Tallinn, the sex and age differences in worry were smaller. Environmental worry seemed to have connections to a general sense of responsibility and risk behaviour such as heavy drinking and smoking. For all sites those pupils who often throw empty packages onto the street or into the nature expressed lower environmental concern than their more responsible peers. The differences of worry between the cities were difficult to interpret, but the greater total concern of young Muscovites may be part of their general social anxiety, which is associated with the instability of the Russian society.
Complex analysis proves environmental pollution with lead and its compounds to be a serious problem for urban territories of Russian Federation, so immediate activities of authorities in charge are required. Recent decrease of lead releases into atmosphere is caused mainly by production decline, but considerable part of children in urban Russia is still under risk of lead intoxication.
1,687 registered captains and mates from a Norwegian census in 1970 were monitored up to 1987. By matching the data from the census with data from the Norwegian Cancer Registry we discovered 104 cases of cancer. A control group of 376 was chosen among those without cancer. A nested case-control study design was used. The material was analysed using multivariate logistic regression. Increased risk of developing cancer was found in the group of seamen who had been working on tankers, especially among seamen who had been working as mate on these tankers. Exposure to chemicals is the major factor distinguishing tankers from other ships. Mates are exposed to chemicals while captains are not. The study indicates the presence of carcinogenic agents on these tankers.
Having analyzed 274 accidents, the authors summarize accident definitions and stages of chemical accident, presents parameters of chemical risk, determine chemicals frequently involved into accidents, evaluate occurrence and severity of chemical disorders. The article outlines suggestions on accidents account in this country.
Environmental pollutants, which may occur in breast milk and in various food products and drinking water, and which are also transferred to the foetus, constitute a severe threat to the health of infants and children. Among such compounds, various organochlorines, such as pesticides for the control of parasites (DDTs, HCHs), and products of industry and agriculture, such as dioxins and dioxin-like compounds (PCBs), are much discussed, in addition to organic mercury and heavy metals, such as lead and cadmium. The consequences of acute exposure to PCB have been documented in Japan following the ingestion of rice oil contaminated by PCBs. In Sweden birthweight has been found to be reduced and the perinatal mortality rate higher than expected in regions with high consumption of fatty fish from the Baltic Sea. In addition, from studies around Lake Michigan, it has been shown that children who have been exposed to PCBs in utero have retarded cognitive development. In the Aral Sea basin in Central Asia people have been subjected to long-term exposure to various pesticides, which have been distributed over the cotton fields in huge quantities. Organochlorines are resistant to breakdown in nature, thus they enter the food chain, eventually entering the human diet, and they may also be inhaled from dust. Such compounds accumulate in the foetus by placental transport and continue to do so postnatally if the infants are breastfed, as they may be present in high concentrations in human milk. The health of children living in the Aral Sea region is reported to be poor, with high morbidity and mortality and a high rate of chronic diseases and retarded mental and physical development. However, in addition to being subjected to environmental pollution, these children also suffer from health hazards related to poverty. Through epidemiological studies it may be possible to obtain information about to what extent exposure to environmental pollution from organochlorines contributes to the poor health of people living in the Aral Sea region.
Market baskets containing sixty food items included in the average Swedish diet were purchased from three shops in four major Swedish cities during autumn 1987. Food items were selected on the basis of food-balance-sheet data. Freeze-dried homogenates representative of each city were analysed for twelve essential or toxic mineral elements. The energy content of the market baskets (11.5 MJ) corresponded to the reference value for male adults. At this energy level the contents of calcium (1180 mg), magnesium (300 mg), iron (16 mg), zinc (12 mg) and selenium (44 micrograms) were above or close to the Swedish recommended daily intakes. The contents of manganese (3.7 mg) and molybdenum (150 micrograms) were within and that of copper (1.2 mg) was below the safe and adequate intake values given in the US recommended dietary allowance (Food and Nutrition Board, National Research Council, 1989). The content of nickel was 82 micrograms. The contents of lead (17 micrograms), cadmium (12 micrograms) and mercury (1.8 micrograms) in the daily diet were low compared with the provisional tolerable intakes set by the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives (World Health Organization, 1972, 1989). The market-basket contents of Ca, Mg, Fe and Zn calculated from values in the Swedish food composition tables were close to the analysed values, indicating that the Swedish food tables provide relevant information for the estimation of the dietary supply of these elements.