This paper provides a short overview of cobalt-related diseases with particular reference to the potential carcinogenicity of cobalt compounds, and a review of a 10-year surveillance programme on plate painters exposed to cobalt in two Danish porcelain factories. Clinical experience and epidemiological studies have demonstrated that cobalt exposure may lead to severely impaired lung function, i.e. hard metal lung disease and occupational cobalt-related asthma, contact dermatitis and cardiovascular effects. However, the evidence for the carcinogenicity of cobalt and cobalt compounds is considered inadequate (IARC, 1991). Most frequently, exposure to cobalt occurs simultaneously with exposure to other elements known to pose a health risk, (e.g. nickel, arsenic, chromium, tungsten). The importance of cobalt as sole causal agent in hard metal lung diseases, cardiomyopathy and cancer are still a matter of controversy. In the two Danish porcelain factories, cobalt blue underglaze dyes have been used since 1888. In contrast to the exposure experience of hard metal factories, the exposure of plate painters occurs with only low trace levels of other potentially harmful compounds such as the carcinogenic metals nickel, arsenic and chromium. Consequently, the nearly-pure cobalt exposure makes the plate painters an attractive group for studies on the health effects of cobalt. During the period 1982-1992 the surveillance programme showed a profound reduction in the urine level of cobalt (Co-U) from 100-fold to 10-fold above the median level of the unexposed control subjects. In the same period, the airborne cobalt exposure declined from 1356 nmol/m3 to 454 nmol/m3, the Danish occupational exposure limit being 845 nmol/m3. In 1982, when the cobalt exposure was above the occupational exposure limit, the plate painters showed a chronic impaired lung function. The obstructive effects may be similar to some of the effects observed in hard metal workers. In 1988, a study on the effect of cobalt exposure at low levels revealed no inhibitory effects on thyroid function, but the ratio between T4 and T3 increased, indicating that low cobalt exposure may have an impact on the metabolism of thyroid hormones. Parallel studies were conducted on the metabolism and excretion of cobalt. The gastrointestinal uptake of soluble CoCl was considerably higher than the uptake of insoluble cobalt(II) oxide. In addition, it was demonstrated that ingestion of controlled amounts of the soluble cobalt compound resulted in significantly higher concentrations of cobalt in urine and blood (Co-B) from females compared with males (P
OBJECTIVES: This study examined certain occupational exposures and the risk for adult-onset asthma. METHODS: A nested case-referent study of adult-onset asthma was performed on a random population sample (N=15813), aged 21 to 51 years. Cases for the study included 2 groups: subjects reporting "physician-diagnosed" asthma (N=251) and a broader "asthma" group (N=362). The "asthma" group consisted of subjects with "physician-diagnosed" asthma (N=251) and subjects reporting asthma-like symptoms without having "physician-diagnosed" asthma (N=111). The referents (N=2044) were randomly selected from the whole population sample. The case-referent sample was investigated with a comprehensive questionnaire about occupational exposures, asthma, respiratory symptoms, smoking, and atopy. Odds ratios were calculated with stratification for gender, year of diagnosis, and birth year. RESULTS: The highest odds ratio for "physician-diagnosed" asthma was associated with exposure to flour dust [odds ratio (OR) 2.8, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.5-5.2] and the occupational handling of resin-based paints (isocyanates) (OR 3.0, 95% CI 1.6-5.9). Exposure to welding fumes, textile dust, and work with glues containing acrylates was also associated with an increased odds ratio for "physician-diagnosed" asthma. Including persons with asthma-like symptoms (ie, the asthma group) showed similar results. CONCLUSION: This population-based case-referent study from Sweden indicates that occupational exposure to acrylate-based compounds and welding fumes is associated with increased risk for adult-onset asthma.
BACKGROUND: The reasons for the increasing incidence of and strong male predominance in patients with oesophageal and cardia adenocarcinoma remain unclear. The authors hypothesised that airborne occupational exposures in male dominated industries might contribute. METHODS: In a nationwide Swedish population based case control study, 189 and 262 cases of oesophageal and cardia adenocarcinoma respectively, 167 cases of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma, and 820 frequency matched controls underwent personal interviews. Based on each study participant's lifetime occupational history the authors assessed cumulative airborne occupational exposure for 10 agents, analysed individually and combined, by a deterministic additive model including probability, frequency, and intensity. Furthermore, occupations and industries of longest duration were analysed. Relative risks were estimated by odds ratios (OR), with 95% confidence intervals (CI), using conditional logistic regression, adjusted for potential confounders. RESULTS: Tendencies of positive associations were found between high exposure to pesticides and risk of oesophageal (OR 2.3 (95% CI 0.9 to 5.7)) and cardia adenocarcinoma (OR 2.1 (95% CI 1.0 to 4.6)). Among workers highly exposed to particular agents, a tendency of an increased risk of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma was found. There was a twofold increased risk of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma among concrete and construction workers (OR 2.2 (95% CI 1.1 to 4.2)) and a nearly fourfold increased risk of cardia adenocarcinoma among workers within the motor vehicle industry (OR 3.9 (95% CI 1.5 to 10.4)). An increased risk of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (OR 3.9 (95% CI 1.2 to 12.5)), and a tendency of an increased risk of cardia adenocarcinoma (OR 2.8 (95% CI 0.9 to 8.5)), were identified among hotel and restaurant workers. CONCLUSIONS: Specific airborne occupational exposures do not seem to be of major importance in the aetiology of oesophageal or cardia adenocarcinoma and are unlikely to contribute to the increasing incidence or the male predominance.
Occurrence of airway irritation among indoor swimming pool personnel was investigated. The aims of this study were to assess trichloramine exposure levels and exhaled nitric oxide in relation to the prevalence of airway symptoms in swimming pool facilities and to determine protein effects in the upper respiratory tract.
The presence of airway symptoms related to work was examined in 146 individuals working at 46 indoor swimming pool facilities. Levels of trichloramine, as well as exhaled nitric oxide, were measured in five facilities with high prevalence of airway irritation and four facilities with no airway irritation among the personnel. Nasal lavage fluid was collected, and protein profiles were determined by a proteomic approach.
17 % of the swimming pool personnel reported airway symptoms related to work. The levels of trichloramine in the swimming pool facilities ranged from 0.04 to 0.36 mg/m(3). There was no covariance between trichloramine levels, exhaled nitric oxide and prevalence of airway symptoms. Protein profiling of the nasal lavage fluid showed that the levels alpha-1-antitrypsin and lactoferrin were significantly higher, and S100-A8 was significantly lower in swimming pool personnel.
This study confirms the occurrence of airway irritation among indoor swimming pool personnel. Our results indicate altered levels of innate immunity proteins in the upper airways that may pose as potential biomarkers. However, swimming pool facilities with high prevalence of airway irritation could not be explained by higher trichloramine exposure levels. Further studies are needed to clarify the environmental factors in indoor swimming pools that cause airway problems and affect the immune system.
OBJECTIVES: Powder painting is an alternative to solvent-based spray painting. Powder paints may contain organic acid anhydrides (OAAs), which are irritants to the airways and may cause sensitisation. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of respiratory symptoms and immunological response among powder painters and to describe the exposure to OAAs. METHODS: In all, 205 subjects in 32 enterprises participated: 93 exposed and 26 formerly exposed workers in 25 powder paint shops and 86 unexposed workers. They completed a questionnaire about working conditions and symptoms and took part in a medical examination, which included a lung function test. Urine samples, for determination of two OAAs, and blood samples, for analysis of specific antibodies against the OAAs, were taken. In addition, 33 paint samples were analysed for nine OAAs. RESULTS: The powder painters reported more work-related respiratory symptoms than unexposed subjects did. The prevalence of three or more symptoms was 24% in subjects with low exposure, 44% in highly exposed individuals, 46% in formerly exposed subjects and 19% in unexposed workers. Asthma symptoms were frequent, 7%, 40%, 15% and 2%, respectively. Regression analyses of the lung volumes did not show any influence of exposure. IgG, but not IgE, against the OAAs and metabolites of OAAs was found in some subjects, but no associations with the exposure could be observed. OAAs were found in only small amounts in the paint samples. CONCLUSIONS: The exposure to organic acid anhydrides was estimated to be low, and yet, IgG antibodies to OAA were observed in some subjects. The prevalence of work-related symptoms from the eyes and the airways was relatively high among the powder painters, and these symptoms, but not the lung volumes, were clearly related to exposure. The symptoms were probably caused by irritative properties of the powder paint dust.
Ambient air pollution with flour dust (FD) and microorganisms, including microscopic fungi, was studied; the single concentrations of FD under emission plumes were 0.12-0.17 mg/m3; the total content of mould, field, and storage fungi was 700 +/- 30, 671 +/- 19, and 29 +/- 3, respectively. The maximum allowable concentrations for FD were ascertained; the equal ones were the maximum single concentration of 1.0; the daily average concentration was 0.4 mg/m3; hazard class IV; the limiting hazard index was their resorptive activity.
Occupational and residential noise exposure has been related to increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Alteration of serum lipid levels has been proposed as a possible causal pathway. The objective of this study was to investigate the relation between ambient and at-the-ear occupational noise exposure and serum levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, and triglycerides when accounting for well-established predictors of lipid levels.
This cross-sectional study included 424 industrial workers and 84 financial workers to obtain contrast in noise exposure levels. They provided a serum sample and wore portable dosimeters that every 5-s recorded ambient noise exposure levels during a 24-h period. We extracted measurements obtained during work and calculated the full-shift mean ambient noise level. For 331 workers who kept a diary on the use of a hearing protection device (HPD), we subtracted 10 dB from every noise recording obtained during HPD use and estimated the mean full-shift noise exposure level at the ear.
Mean ambient noise level was 79.9 dB (A) [range 55.0-98.9] and the mean estimated level at the ear 77.8 dB (A) [range 55.0-94.2]. Ambient and at-the-ear noise levels were strongly associated with increasing levels of triglycerides, cholesterol-HDL ratio, and decreasing levels of HDL-cholesterol, but only in unadjusted analyses that did not account for HPD use and other risk factors.
No associations between ambient or at-the-ear occupational noise exposure and serum lipid levels were observed. This indicates that a causal pathway between occupational and residential noise exposure and cardiovascular disease does not include alteration of lipid levels.
The article covers changes in occupational cardiovascular risk for workers of nonferrous,metallurgy. Findings are that exposure to noise up to 94 dB with length of service increases possible atherosclerosis and metabolic syndrome. With 5 years of service, risk of the predicted conditions increases by 40.5%. When occupational exposure lasts over 5 years, risk of arterial hypertension increases. A group of workers without exposure to occupational factors appeared to have no connection between length of service and metabolic syndrome and arterial hypertension. Risk evolution modelling proved that risk of functional disorders in nonferrous metallurgy workers becomes unacceptable after 5 years of service (cardiovascular disorders are critical).
Whole-body vibration measurements were recorded for various types of heavy equipment used within the construction industry. The purpose of these measurements was to provide more information about the potential levels of whole-body vibration experienced by equipment operators in the construction industry, as well as to identify types of equipment warranting further research. In total, 67 pieces of equipment were tested from 14 different equipment types. Testing took place at various construction sites including corporate, public, and residential work projects. Measurements were made (following the 1997 International Standards Organization's 2631-1 whole-body vibration standards) for 20-minute testing periods using a Larson Davis HVM100 vibration monitor and a triaxial accelerometer. The mobile equipment tested was associated with greater levels of whole-body vibration than the stationary equipment. When whole-body vibration levels were compared to the International Standards Organization's 2631-1 standards, wheel loaders, off-road dump trucks, scrapers, skid steer vehicles, backhoes, bulldozers, crawler loaders, and concrete trowel vehicles exceeded the recommendations based on measured vibration dose values. Further research incorporating larger sample sizes and controlled testing conditions is required to better understand the levels of exposure experienced by operators as well as the amount to which seating, terrain, mobility, and vehicle structure might affect whole-body vibration.