The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of respiratory symptoms and physician-diagnosed asthma and assess the impact of current occupational exposure.
Cross-sectional analyses of the prevalence of self-reported respiratory health and association with current occupational exposure in a random sample of the general population in Telemark County, Norway.
In 2013, a self-administered questionnaire was mailed to a random sample of the general population, aged 16-50, in Telemark, Norway. The overall response rate was 33%, comprising 16 099 responders.
The prevalence for respiratory symptoms and asthma, and OR of respiratory symptoms and asthma for occupational groups and exposures were calculated. Occupational exposures were assessed using self-reported exposure and an asthma-specific job-exposure matrix (JEM).
The prevalence of physician-diagnosed asthma was 11.5%. For the occupational groups, the category with agriculture/fishery workers and craft/related trade workers was associated with wheezing and asthma attack in the past 12 months, showing OR 1.3 (1.1 to 1.6) and 1.9 (1.2 to 2.8), respectively. The group including technicians and associated professionals was also associated with wheezing OR 1.2 (1.0 to 1.3) and asthma attack OR 1.4 (1.1 to 1.9). The JEM data show that exposure to flour was associated with wheezing OR 3.2 (1.4 to 7.3) and woken with dyspnoea OR 3.5 (1.3 to 9.5), whereas exposures to diisocyanates, welding/soldering fumes and exposure to vehicle/motor exhaust were associated with dyspnoea OR 2.9 (1.5 to 5.7), 3.2 (1.6 to 6.4) and 1.4 (1.0 to 1.8), respectively.
The observed prevalence of physician-diagnosed asthma was 11.5%. The 'manual' occupations were associated with respiratory symptoms. Occupational exposure to flour, diisocyanates, welding/soldering fumes and vehicle/motor exhaust was associated with respiratory symptoms in the past 12 months and use of asthma medication. However, prospective data are needed to confirm the observed associations.
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Cites: Arch Environ Occup Health. 2012;67(4):189-9823074976
Loss-of-function mutations in the filaggrin gene (FLG) are associated with xerosis, atopic dermatitis, and early onset of hand eczema. Irritant exposure is a risk factor for occupational hand eczema, and FLG mutations increase the risk of occupational irritant contact dermatitis on the hands in hospital cohorts. It is unknown whether FLG mutations affect the level of irritant exposure.
To evaluate whether exposure to occupational irritants was dependent on FLG mutations, atopic dermatitis, and age at hand eczema onset.
Randomly chosen Danish adults completed a questionnaire on general health and occupational exposures. Genotyping for FLG mutations (R501X, 2282del4, and R2447X) and patch testing were performed.
Overall, 38.7% of subjects reported present or previous occupational exposure to irritants. Among individuals who reported hand eczema onset before entering their work life, 50.6% (45/89) of FLG non-mutation carriers became exposed to irritants, as compared with 28.6% (4/14) of heterozygous and 0% (0/6) of homozygous mutation carriers (p = 0.006). Avoidance was conspicuous among mutation carriers reporting childhood hand eczema and atopic dermatitis (odds ratio 0.08, 95% confidence interval 0.01-0.65).
Carriers of FLG mutations who have had hand eczema onset in childhood avoid occupational exposure to irritants; the association is most marked with homozygous mutation status combined with atopic dermatitis.
The character of upper limb disorder in computer operators is subject to debate. A peripheral nerve-involvement is suggested from the common presence of a triad of symptoms consisting of pain, paraestesiae and subjective weakness, and from physical findings suggesting neuropathy. This study aimed to examine the outcome of a detailed neurological examination in computer operators and to compare findings with the presence of symptoms.
96 graphical computer operators answered a modified Nordic Questionnaire including information on perceived pain in the shoulder, elbow, and wrist/hand scored for each region on a VAS-scale 0-9. In addition, they underwent a physical examination including the subjective assessment of the individual function of 11 upper limb muscles, of algesia in five and vibratory threshold in three territories, respectively, and of mechanosensitivity of nerves at seven locations. In order to reflect an involvement of the brachial plexus (chord level), the posterior interosseous nerve and the median nerve at elbow level we defined three patterns of neurological findings illustrating the course of nerves and their innervation. The pain scores summarized for the three upper limb regions (min. = 0, max = 27) in the mouse-operating and contralateral limbs were compared by a Wilcoxon test and the relation to each physical item analyzed by Kendall's rank correlation. The relation of summarized pain to each pattern was studied by application of a test of the trend across ordered groups (patterns).
Pain, paraestesiae and subjective weakness was reported for 67, 23, and 7 mouse-operating limbs, respectively, with the summarized pain scores exceeding 4 in 33 limbs. Abnormal physical findings were prevalent. The summarized pain was significantly related to a reduced function in five muscles, to mechanical allodynia at one location and to elevated threshold to vibration in two territories. Brachial plexopathy was diagnosed in 9/2, median neuropathy in 13/5 and posterior interosseous neuropathy in 13/8 mouse operating/contralateral limbs, respectively. The summarized pain was significantly higher in the mouse-operating limbs and in limbs with any of the defined patterns. There was a significant trend between the summarized pain and the summarized scores for the items contained in each pattern.
This small-scale study of a group of computer-operators currently in work and with no or minor upper limb symptoms has indicated in symptomatic subjects the presence of peripheral nerve-afflictions with specific locations.
Cites: J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1999 Nov;81(11):1600-1010565653
This study aimed to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of background, individual and workplace psychological risk factors to investigated their relationship with spinal pain. Because there is some doubt as to whether the results of cross-sectional findings hold in longitudinal studies, a prospective study was superimposed upon a cross-sectional design of the effects of psychological variables on back pain and function to determine, whether similar results are obtained. Participants were workers randomly selected from the general population, where 372 had not experienced pain during the past year, and 209 had experienced considerable pain problems. A cross-sectional comparison of these groups using multivariate statistics indicated that the most potent risk factors were psychological distress (odds ratio=13.2) and poor function (odds ratio=6.4). Much smaller levels of risk were found for perceived workload, gender and foreign birth. Those participants with no pain were followed for one year to determine development of a spinal pain problem. Although few participants developed a significant pain problem, the prospective analyses showed that psychological distress (odds ratio=2.2), catastrophizing (odds ratio=3.0), and workload (odds ratio=2.3) produced the highest odds ratios. Taken together these results underscore the need for a multidimensional view of the development of pain disability. Moreover, individual psychological factors such as distress and catastrophizing as well as work place factors like work load were found to be highly related to the development of back pain in a sample of workers from the general population. The cross-sectional and prospective results were similar in character and demonstrate that cross-sectional studies may provide valuable information. Because psychological variables were relevant very early on, these factors may be important targets for pain prevention programs.
The main aim of this study was to explore the mediating role made by work environment to health inequalities by wage income in Sweden. Gender differences were also analysed. Data from the Swedish Survey of Living Conditions for the years 1998 and 1999 were analysed. Employed 20-64-year olds with a registered wage were included (nearly 6000 respondents). Sex-specific logistic regressions in relation to global self-rated health were applied. Those in the lowest income quintile had 2.4 times (men) and 4.3 times (women) higher probability of less than good health than did those in the highest quintile (adjusted for age, family status, country of birth, education level, smoking and full-time work). The mediating contribution of work environment factors to the health gradient by income was 25 per cent (men) and 29 per cent (women), respectively. This contribution was observed mainly from ergonomic and physical exposure, decision authority and skill discretion. Psychological demands did not contribute to such inequalities because mentally demanding work tasks are more common in high income as compared with low income jobs. Using sex-specific income quintiles, instead of income quintiles for the entire sample, gave very similar results. In conclusion, work environment factors can be seen as important mediators for the association between wage income and ill health in Sweden. A larger residual effect of income on health for women as compared with men suggests that one's own income from work is a more important determinant of women's than men's ill health in Sweden.
The effects of radiofrequency fields on human health are not well understood, and public concern about negative health effects has been rising. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between workers exposed to electromagnetic fields and their reproductive health. We obtained data using a questionnaire in a cross-sectional study of naval military men, response rate 63% (n = 1487). We asked the respondents about exposure, lifestyle, reproductive health, previous diseases, work and education. An expert group categorized the work categories related to electromagnetic field exposure. We categorized the work categories "tele/communication," "electronics" and "radar/sonar" as being exposed to electromagnetic fields. Logistic regression adjusted for age, ever smoked, military education, and physical exercise at work showed increased risk of infertility among tele/communication odds ratio (OR = 1.72, 95% confidence interval 1.04-2.85), and radar/sonar odds ratio (OR = 2.28, 95% confidence interval 1.27-4.09). The electronics group had no increased risk. This study shows a possible relationship between exposure to radiofrequency fields during work with radiofrequency equipment and radar and reduced fertility. However, the results must be interpreted with caution.
Although legionnaires' disease frequently is acquired in health care institutions, little is known about the occupational risk of Legionella infection among health care workers. The aim of the present cross-sectional study was to analyse antibody levels among exposed hospital workers and to determine the correlation between antibodies to Legionella and self-reported symptoms. The study included 258 hospital employees and a reference group of 708 healthy blood donors. Hospital workers had a higher prevalence of Legionella antibody titres (>/=1 : 128) than blood donors (odds ratio 3.4; 95% CI 2.4-4.8). Antibody levels were not higher among staff members at risk of frequent aerosol exposure than among less exposed employees. There was no consistent association between a history of influenza-like symptom complex and the presence of antibodies. The results indicate that hospital workers have a higher risk of Legionella infections than the general population. However, since no excess morbidity was associated with seropositivity, most Legionella infections may be asymptomatic.
Cites: Ann Agric Environ Med. 2004;11(1):9-1215236492
Cites: Stat Med. 2003 Dec 30;22(24):3713-2414673933
Medical radiation technologists (MRTs) or radiographers have potential exposure to chemicals including sensitisers and irritants such as glutaraldehyde, formaldehyde, sulphur dioxide, and acetic acid.
To determine the prevalence of asthma and work related respiratory symptoms among MRTs compared with physiotherapists, and to identify work related factors in the darkroom environment that are associated with these outcomes.
As part of a two component study, we undertook a questionnaire mail survey of the members of the professional associations of MRTs and physiotherapists in Ontario, Canada, to ascertain the prevalence of physician diagnosed asthma, and the prevalence in the past 12 months of three or more of the nine respiratory symptoms (previously validated by Venables et al to be sensitive and specific for the presence of self reported asthma). Information on exposure factors during the past 12 months, such as ventilation conditions, processor leaks, cleanup activities, and use of personal protective equipment was also collected.
The survey response rate was 63.9% among MRTs and 63.1% among physiotherapists. Most analyses were confined to 1110 MRTs and 1523 physiotherapists who never smoked. The prevalence of new onset asthma (since starting in the profession) was greater among never smoking MRTs than physiotherapists (6.4% v 3.95%), and this differed across gender: it was 30% greater among females but fivefold greater among males. Compared with physiotherapists, the prevalence of reporting three or more respiratory symptoms, two or more work related, and three or more work related respiratory symptoms in the past 12 months was more frequent among MRTs, with odds ratios (ORs) (and 95% confidence intervals) adjusted for age, gender, and childhood asthma, of 1.9 (1.5 to 2.3), 3.7 (2.6 to 5.3), and 3.2 (2.0 to 5.0), respectively. Analyses examining latex glove use indicated that this was not likely to account for these differences. Among MRTs, respiratory symptoms were associated with a number of workplace and exposure factors likely to generate aerosol or chemical exposures such as processors not having local ventilation, adjusted OR 2.0 (1.4 to 3.0); leaking processor in which clean up was delayed, 2.4 (1.6 to 3.5); floor drain clogged, 2.0 (1.2 to 3.2); freeing a film jam, 2.9 (1.8 to 4.8); unblocking a blocked processor drain, 2.4 (1.6 to 3.7); and cleaning up processor chemical spill, 2.8 (1.9 to 4.2). These outcomes were not associated with routine tasks unlikely to generate exposures, such as working outside primary workplace, loading film into processor, routine cleaning of processors, or removing processed film. Males reported that they carried out a number of tasks potentially associated with irritant exposures more frequently than females, consistent with the marked increase in risk for new onset asthma.
These findings suggest an increase of work related asthma and respiratory symptoms shown to denote asthma among MRTs, which is consistent with previous surveys. The mechanism is not known but appears to be linked with workplace factors and may involve a role for irritant exposures.
Cites: Allergy. 1999 Oct;54(10):1105-910536890
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Cites: Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2000 May;161(5):1508-1210806146
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is one of the most reported occupational diseases internationally. The occurrence of audiometric notches is emphasized in both American and European guidelines for the diagnosis of NIHL. The aim of this study was to describe the prevalence of notched audiograms among railway personnel with and without noise exposure to better assess the usefulness of such notches in the diagnosis of NIHL.
The most recent audiogram from 1994 to 2011 of a total of 12,055 railway workers, age 20 to 65 years, was obtained from the medical records of the occupational health service of the Norwegian State Railways (NSB). The prevalences of three types of notched audiograms, Coles notch, notch index, and 4 kHz notch, were computed, in relation to age, sex, and occupational noise exposure.
Coles notch in either ear was found in 63% of the male railway maintenance workers, exposed to noise levels of 75 to 90 dB(A), compared with 53% of the non-noise exposed (
Cites: Occup Med (Lond). 2013 Dec;63(8):544-824204021
OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to investigate iron status in a population with a high proportion of miners in the northernmost part of Norway. STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional, population-based study performed in order to investigate possible health effects of pollution in the population living on both sides of the Norwegian-Russian border. METHODS: All individuals living in the community of Sør-Varanger were invited for screening in 1994. In 2000, blood samples from 2949 participants (response rate 66.8 %), age range 30-69 years, were defrosted. S-ferritin and transferrin saturation were analysed in samples from 1548 women and 1401 men. About 30 % (n = 893) were employed in the iron mining industry, 476 of whom were miners and 417 had other tasks in the company. Type and duration of employment and time since last day of work at the company were used as indicators of exposure. RESULTS: Both s-ferritin levels and transferrin saturation were higher in men than in women. S-ferritin increased with increasing age in women, while the opposite was true for men. Iron deficiency occurred with higher frequencies in women (16 %) than in men (4 %). Iron overload was uncommon in both sexes. Adjustment for smoking and self-reported pulmonary diseases did not show any effect on iron levels. Miners had non-significant higher mean s-ferritin and transferrin saturation than non-miners. Neither duration, nor time since employment in the mine, had any impact on iron status. CONCLUSIONS: Our analyses did not show any associations between being a miner in the iron mining industry and serum iron levels compared to the general population.