Nano-scale deserves special attention

3-single-vs-multi-walled-carbon-nanotubesOver the last years there has been a big load of research into the health and safety implications of man-made nano-materials. The term nanomaterials refers to materials that have at least one dimension (height, width or length) that is smaller than 100 nanometres (10−7 metre), which is about the size of a virus particle. This particular size dimension represents a major characteristic of manufactured nanomaterials (MNMs). The unique properties of MNMs may result in highly desirable behaviour leading to such
varying applications as better paints, better drugs and faster electronics. However, for the same reason, MNMs may also present health hazards that differ from those of the substance in bulk form, and may require different test methods for hazard, exposure and risk assessment.

The toxicity of MNMs may largely depend on numerous physicochemical properties, including size, shape (i.e. size in a particular dimension), composition, surface characteristics, charge and rate of dissolution. There is currently a paucity of precise information about human exposure pathways for MNMs, their fate in the human body and their ability to induce unwanted biological effects such as generation of oxidative stress. Data from in vitro, animal and human MNM inhalation studies are available for only a few MNMs. So far, no long-term adverse health effects in humans have been observed. This could be due to the recent introduction of MNMs, the precautionary approach to avoid exposure and ethical concerns about conducting studies
on humans.

The increased production of MNMs and their use in consumer and industrial products means that workers in all countries will be at the front line of exposure to these materials, placing them at increased risk for potential adverse health effects. Currently an extensive WHO-report was published in which this literature was taken into account to develop guidelines with recommendations on how best to protect workers from the potential risks of MNMs.

The report: “WHO guidelines on protecting workers from potential risks of manufactured nanomaterials.” is online available and is very informative on the state of the art information available

Preferred citation of source : WHO guidelines on protecting workers from potential risks of manufactured nanomaterials. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2017. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO


How valid is workers’ self-reported work-related illness?

Finally published as HSE report our review on workers’ self-report 

RR903 – Review on the validity and reliability of self-reported work-related illness

Self-report is an efficient and accepted means of assessing population characteristics, risk factors, and diseases and is frequently used in occupational health studies. Little is known on the validity of self-reports used to measure work-related illness. This study reviews the evidence on the reliability and validity of workers’ self-reported work-related ill health.

Legislation helps prevention

One of the most difficult things in Occupational Health is show that preventive measures really have impact on the incidence of work-related disease. In an interesting study by Jill Stocks et al. data of the registries for occupational diseases in the UK are used to study the influence of European legislation on reducing chromate exposure in cement. They found a steeper decline in allergic contact dermatitis attributed to chromate than for other types of allergic contact dermatitis after introduction of the legislation.

S J Stocks, R McNamee, S Turner, M Carder, R M Agius Has European Union legislation to reduce exposure to chromate in cement been effective in reducing the incidence of allergic contact dermatitis attributed to chromate in the UK? Occup Environ Med2012;69:150-152 Continue reading “Legislation helps prevention”

Suggestive relation between multiple myeloma and chlorinated solvent exposure

The relationship between multiple myeloma and occupational exposure to six chlorinated solvents
Laura S Gold et al. 2011

Evidence from a relatively large case-control study (181 cases (71% response) vs. 481 controls (52% response)) suggests that exposures to certain chlorinated solvents may be associated with increased incidence of multiple myeloma; however, the study is limited by relatively low participation (52%) among controls

What this paper adds:

  • The aetiology of multiple myeloma is poorly understood.

  • The purpose of this research was to examine relationships between occupational exposures to chlorinated solvents and multiple myeloma.
  • This research provides evidence that certain chlorinated solvents, most notably trichloroethylene, are associated with increased incidence of multiple myeloma.

  • While results were less clear, exposure to 1,1,1-trichloroethane, methylene chloride, perchloroethylene, carbon tetrachloride and chloroform also conferred increased risk of multiple myeloma in our population. Continue reading “Suggestive relation between multiple myeloma and chlorinated solvent exposure”

Daily exposure measures prevent further hearing loss

Interesting study on a preventive intervention for occupational noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Workers who could daily monitor their noise exposure “at-ear” experienced no further worsening of high frequency hearing 4 years after the intervention. This might be a promising approach to enhance the situation of this frequent occupational disease.

Effect of daily noise exposure monitoring on annual rates of hearing loss in industrial workers
Peter M Rabinowitz, Deron Galusha, Sharon R Kirsche, Mark R Cullen, Martin D Slade, Christine Dixon-Ernst
Occup Environ Med 2011;68:414-418 Continue reading “Daily exposure measures prevent further hearing loss”

More respiratory symptoms in municipal solid waste workers in Greece

solid wasteTo evaluate the respiratory health of municipal solid waste workers (MSWWs), Greek researchers studied 184 municipal employees of Keratsini (104 MSWWs and 80 controls) with questionnaire and spirometry. Spirometry revealed a reduced mean forced vital capacity (FVC) and forced expiratory volume in 1 s (as a percentage of predicted values) in MSWWs compared with controls. After adjustment for smoking status, only the decline in FVC was statistically significant (P < 0.05).
Prevalence of all respiratory symptoms was higher in MSWWs than in controls. After adjustment for confounding factors, the difference reached statistical significance (P < 0.05) for morning cough, cough on exertion and sore throat. Although this study had some limitations like small sample size, the results indicate a higher prevalence of respiratory symptoms and a greater decrease in lung function in MSWWs.

M. Athanasiou, G. Makrynos and G. Dounias, Respiratory health of municipal solid waste workers,
Occup Med (Lond) (2010) 60 (8): 618-623

Continue reading “More respiratory symptoms in municipal solid waste workers in Greece”

Exposure to neurotoxic solvents may influence blue-yellow color vision in aircraft maintenance workers

Australian researchers studied the possible persisting effects to color vision of exposure to formulations containing neurotoxins during F-111 fuel tank maintenance. They studied 3 groups: 512 exposed personnel, 458 technical-trade comparisons, and 330 non-technical comparisons. Forty five percent of all participants had blue-yellow color deficient vision (CDV) in at least one eye. Deficiencies of this nature are caused by environmental exposures. There were statistically significant differences in CCI a blue-yellow confusion in the exposed group versus technical group (odds ratio 1.4: 95% CI 1.1–1.7). No differences were observed between the exposed group and the non-technical group. The researchers concluded that the results indicate reduced color discrimination among the exposed subjects compared to one of two control groups. The findings may be due to previous exposure to solvents among the air force personnel

Maya Guest et al. 2010, Impairment of color vision in aircraft maintenance workers
International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health (13 November 2010), pp. 1-11 Continue reading “Exposure to neurotoxic solvents may influence blue-yellow color vision in aircraft maintenance workers”