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.
In epidemiological research, self-reported information about determinants and levels of occupational exposures is difficult to obtain, especially if the disease under study has a high mortality rate or follow-up has exceeded several years. In this paper, we present a semi-quantitative exposure assessment strategy for nested case-control studies of styrene exposure among workers of the Danish reinforced plastics industry when no information on job title, task or other indicators of individual exposure were readily available from cases and controls. The strategy takes advantage of the variability in styrene exposure level and styrene exposure probability across companies. The study comprised 1522 cases of selected malignancies and neurodegenerative diseases and controls employed in 230 reinforced plastics companies and other related industries. Between 1960 and 1996, 3057 measurements of styrene exposure level obtained from 191 companies, were identified. Mixed effects models were used to estimate expected styrene exposure levels by production characteristics for all companies. Styrene exposure probability within each company was estimated for all but three cases and controls from the fraction of laminators, which was reported by a sample of 945 living colleagues of the cases and controls and by employers and dealers of plastic raw materials. The estimates were validated from a subset of 427 living cases and controls that reported their own work as laminators in the industry. We computed styrene exposure scores that integrated estimated styrene exposure level and styrene exposure probability. Product (boats), process (hand and spray lamination) and calendar year period were the major determinants of styrene exposure level. Within-company styrene exposure variability increased by calendar year and was accounted for when computing the styrene exposure scores. Exposure probability estimates based on colleagues' reports showed the highest predictive values in the validation test, which also indicated that up to 67% of the workers were correctly classified into a styrene-exposed job. Styrene exposure scores declined about 10-fold from the 1960s-1990s. This exposure assessment approach may be justified in other industries, and especially in industries dominated by small companies with simple exposure conditions.
Mercury (Hg) release from dental offices has become an acute issue for the dental profession and has resulted in efforts by regulators to mandate both the use of Best Management Practices (BMPs) as well as the installation of amalgam separators. Concern has been expressed by some regarding the efficacy of amalgam separators in reducing the Hg loads to wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Data from several Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs) serving areas with installed bases of separators suggest these devices can substantially reduce Hg burdens to WWTPs. The data consists of Hg levels in sewer sludge (biosolids) and in some cases includes Hg concentrations in WWTP influent and effluent. Data comes from various geographical locations, and suggest separators can have a positive effect in reducing the amount of Hg reaching WWTPs.
The relation between the presence of readily visible man-made mineral fibre (MMMF) products in the ceilings and the presence/frequency of symptoms and diseases, and the correlation between the presence/frequency of symptoms and diseases and the concentration of MMMF in the indoor environment was investigated in 24 kindergartens. A combination of traditional epidemiological techniques and a technical analysis of a number of indoor air parameters did not support the hypothesis that release of MMMF from readily visible MMMF products in the ceilings was mainly responsible for the occurrence of symptoms or diseases related to indoor exposure in kindergartens.
The presentations and discussions summarised provide an overview on the current state of knowledge on a wide range of occupational health risks to which seafarers are exposed. The definition of an occupational risk for a seafarer poses problems as their ship provides both their working and their living environment and, because of its mobility, can expose them to diverse climatic and infectious risks. Knowledge about levels of exposure to potential health risks in seafarers is limited when compared to those working ashore while, because of a pattern of working that is often temporary and insecure, there is little valid long-terminformation on ill-health that can be related to risks at sea and in port. The data that do exist mainly come from developed countries, especially those in North Western Europe and extrapolation from these populations to the Asian seafarers who now crew most ships is of uncertain validity.This course, run by the NIVA Foundation and supported financially by the Nordic Council of Ministers, provided a first opportunity to draw a wide range of information and experience together to review exposure and health risks in seafarers. As a result it provided both a forum for deciding on future needs for investigation and gave those attending a range of insights that can help inform their own practices.
To obtain knowledge about the use and distribution of hazardous chemicals in Danish industry. This knowledge is used to regulate the occupational environment and prevent hazardous exposure.
A national survey on the use of chemicals was carried out in 1989 in a stratified sample of 1448 Danish businesses. 13,000 different chemical products were reported. Information on components in the chemical products was obtained from the Danish product register data base (PROBAS) and by inquiries to suppliers and manufacturers. At the end of the study the composition of about 9400 of the products was known. A model was developed to estimate national numbers of chemical exposure events as a supplement to data on weights of chemicals used.
Data are presented for 36 chemical substances with chronic toxic effects and high estimated national numbers of exposure events for the industry groups included in the survey. Seven of the 36 substances are carcinogens, 17 are reproductive toxicants, 12 are allergens, and 18 are neurotoxicants according to listings of chronic toxicants used by the Danish authorities. The largest national number of exposure events was estimated for the industry groups manufacture of fabricated metal products, and personal services, cleaning, and hair dressing. These should have special attention in further preventive work.
This survey on the use of chemicals is the first nationwide investigation in Denmark to delineate the use of all chemicals. The data have been used in a project to review occupational hazards in general in Danish industry. In the future, the data may be used as a basis for measuring chemical substitution, developing chemical safety, and as reference for more specific investigations and for follow up studies. Also job exposure matrices based on actual use of chemical products can be constructed.
Cites: Am J Public Health. 1989 Dec;79 Suppl:32-72683818
The aim of this study was to identify differences and similarities between the Nordic countries in dentists' use of dental amalgam as a restorative material, and also their knowledge and attitudes about amalgam from health, environmental, ethical, economic and social points of view. Procedures for handling amalgam waste were also studied. A random sample of 250 dentists was drawn from the national registers of authorized dentists in each country in late autumn 1997. At the beginning of 1998, a questionnaire was sent to all the dentists in the study group. The response rate was 77.6% in Denmark, 73.2% in Finland, 78.8% in Norway, and 84.0% in Sweden. In Finland and Sweden the use of dental amalgam had almost ceased, particularly for younger patients, while in Norway and especially in Denmark it was still widely used. Dentists' knowledge of the environmental effects of amalgam was confused, but most dentists had installed amalgam separators in their dental units by 1998. The majority of dentists in each country wanted to keep dental amalgam as a restorative material even in the future, and they did not want to ban the import of mercury to their home countries. Most dentists considered amalgam to be a health risk for at least some patients, and a great majority (from 76% in Sweden to 94% in Norway) considered composite as a possible odontological risk to patients. Since a majority of the dentists considered both amalgam and composites possibly harmful to patients, efforts to develop better alternatives to amalgam should continue.
The main purpose of this study was to determine typical concentrations of heavy metals (HM) in wood from willows and poplars, in order to test the feasibility of phytoscreening and phytoextraction of HM. Samples were taken from one strongly, one moderately, and one slightly polluted site and from three reference sites. Wood from both tree species had similar background concentrations at 0.5 mg kg(-1) for cadmium (Cd), 1.6 mg kg(-1) for copper (Cu), 0.3 mg kg(-1) for nickel (Ni), and 25 mg kg(-1) for zinc (Zn). Concentrations of chromium (Cr) and lead (Pb) were below or close to detection limit. Concentrations in wood from the highly polluted site were significantly elevated, compared to references, in particular for willow. The conclusion from these results is that tree coring could be used successfully to identify strongly heavy metal-polluted soil for Cd, Cu, Ni, Zn, and that willow trees were superior to poplars, except when screening for Ni. Phytoextraction of HMs was quantified from measured concentration in wood at the most polluted site. Extraction efficiencies were best for willows and Cd, but below 0.5% over 10 years, and below 1‰ in 10 years for all other HMs.
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A special challenge in the new European Union chemicals legislation, Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals, will be the toxicological evaluation of chemicals for reproductive toxicity. Use of valid quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSARs) is a possibility under the new legislation. This article focuses on a screening exercise by use of our own and commercial QSAR models for identification of possible reproductive toxicants. Three QSAR models were used for reproductive toxicity for the endpoints teratogenic risk to humans (based on animal tests, clinical data and epidemiological human studies), dominant lethal effect in rodents (in vivo) and Drosophila melanogaster sex-linked recessive lethal effect. A structure set of 57,014 European Inventory of Existing Chemical Substances (EINECS) chemicals was screened. A total of 5240 EINECS chemicals, corresponding to 9.2%, were predicted as reproductive toxicants by one or more of the models. The chemicals predicted positive for reproductive toxicity will be submitted to the Danish Environmental Protection Agency as scientific input for a future updated advisory classification list with advisory classifications for concern for humans owing to possible developmental toxic effects: Xn (Harmful) and R63 (Possible risk of harm to the unborn child). The chemicals were also screened in three models for endocrine disruption.