Ramazzini; Blog on work and health by Annet Lenderink


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

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Asthma, Occupational exposure, ,

Bakery employees at risk for work-related allergies

NIOSH study confirms that despite all the knowledge on the risks of exposure to flour, employees of large commercial bakeries are still at risk of sensitization and respiratory symptoms from exposure to high levels of bakery associatied antiges (BAA). Higher exposure comes with more work-related symptoms. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Allergies, Asthma, Chemical agents, , ,

Mold and damp work spaces may cause new-onset adult asthma

Damp and moldy indoor environments aggravate pre-existing asthma, but may also induce new-onset asthma. Finnish researchers assessed the probability of molds being the cause of asthma in a series  of 694 patients examined because of respiratory symptoms in relation to workplace dampness and molds between 1995 and 2004. They had all been exposed to molds at work and had suffered from work-related lower respiratory symptoms.  

Using internationally recommended diagnostic criteria for occupational asthma (OA), they categorized the patients into three groups: probable, possible, and unlikely OA (156, 45, and 475 patients, respectively). In the group of probable OA, mold sensitization was found in 20%. The level of exposure and sensitization to molds was associated with probable OA. Exposure to damp and moldy workplaces can induce new-onset adult asthma. IgE mediation is a rare mechanism, whereas other mechanisms are unknown.

New-onset adult asthma in relation to damp and moldy workplaces
Kirsi Karvala1 et al. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health 0340-0131 (Print) 1432-1246 (Online) February 02, 2010 Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Asthma, Biological agents, No category, Physical agents, ,

Mining, teaching and health care high risk occupations for asthma

US researchers found that workers in mining (17.0%), health-related industries (12.5%), teaching (13.1%), or in health-related occupations (12.6%) had the highest prevalence of asthma. When these occupations are compared to construction industry workers, workers in mining (aOR = 5.2, 95% CI: 1.1-24.2) or health-related (aOR = 2.3, 95% CI: 1.1-4.8) industries had significantly higher odds of asthma. This study adds to the increasing evidence that miners, healthcare workers and teachers remain high-risk working populations

Prevalence of asthma by industry and occupation in the U.S. working population
Michelle K. McHugh, Elaine Symanski, Lisa A. Pompeii, George L. Delclos
American Journal of Industrial Medicine Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Asthma, Occupational exposure, ,

Which low molecular weight chemicals potentially cause allergy?

Until now there is no agreed protocol for the prediction of low molecular weight (LMW) respiratory sensitizers. To assess the validaty of a previously published quantitative structure–activity relationship (QSAR) model for the prediction of novel chemical respiratory sensitizers research was done on already known asthmagenic (28) and control chemicals (129). 

The area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve for the model’s ability to distinguish asthmagens from controls was 0.87 (95% CI 0.76–0.97). With a cut-off hazard index of 0.5 resulting in sensitivity of 79% and specificity of 93%.  The ROC curve for this QSAR demonstrates good global predictive power for distinguishing asthmagenic from non-asthmagenic LMW organic compounds. This makes QSAT potentially useful for occupational and respiratory physicians.

Further validation of computer-based prediction of chemical asthma hazard
 Seed, M., Agius, R. Occupational Medicine 2010 60(2):115-120 Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Asthma, Chemical agents, New occupational risks, , ,

Working with detergent enzymes may cause lung problems

detergentsTwo recently published studies on the relationship between exposure to detergent enzymes and respiratory disease, confirming a relationship between the enzymes and occupational rhinitis or asthma. One from the UK and one from the Netherlands. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Asthma, Chemical agents, lung, ,

More skin and respiratory problems in professional cleaners

schoonmaaksterIndoor professional cleaners and other building workers (OBW) completed a questionnaire to compare rash and respiratory symptoms  and examine workplace factors such as training, protective equipment and work tasks.

The prevalence of rash was significantly higher in the cleaners compared to the OBW. For male cleaners, 21% (86/413) versus 11% (13/115) of OBW (P < 0.05). The rashes experienced by the cleaners were more likely to be on their hands and worse at work.

Cleaners washed their hands significantly more often than OBW. Cleaners with a rash were less likely to have received workplace training regarding their skin and were more likely to find the safety training hard to understand.

Cleaners with a rash within the past year were significantly more likely to have work-related asthma symptoms than cleaners without a rash (P < 0.001).

Cutaneous and respiratory symptoms among professional cleaners
Carrie B. Lynde, Maya Obadia, Gary M. Liss, Marcos Ribeiro, D. Linn Holness and Susan M. Tarlo Occupational Medicine 2009 59(4):249-254 Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Asthma, Occupational exposure, Skin, , ,

Chengal wood dust and Occupational Asthma

chengal hardwoodExposure to chengal wood dust can lead to Occupational Asthma and possibly rhinitis. Chengal is a resistant rainforest hardwood that is commonly used in South-East Asia for the construction of boats, bridges, house structures and furniture. It contains oligostilbenoids, phenolics, quinones and resins.

Lee, L. T., Tan, K. L.  Occupational asthma due to exposure to chengal wood dust Occupational Medicine 2009 59(5):357-359

Filed under: Asthma, New occupational risks, Occupational exposure, , ,

Less flour dust not easy reached in bakeries

The effect of an intervention aimed at reducing exposure to flour dust and other allergy producing particles in bakers was evaluated. This intervention focused on risk education and providing information on good work practices in the Dutch flour processing industry. Exposure measures were executed pre and post intervention.

Changes in exposure over time varied substantially between sectors and jobs. For bakeries a modest downward annual trend of –2% was found for flour dust and –8% for amylase. For flour mills the annual trend for flour dust was –12%; no significant trend was observed for amylase.

The magnitude of the observed reductions in exposure levels indicates that the sector-wide intervention strategy implemented during the covenant period had a limited overall effect.

Meijster T, Tielemans E, Heederik D
Effect of an intervention aimed at reducing the risk of allergic respiratory disease in bakers: change in flour dust and fungal alpha-amylase levels Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Allergies, Asthma, Chemical agents, lung, , ,

Recognizing and preventing occupational asthma and lung diseases

If you want to learn more about recognizing and preventing occupational asthma and lung diseases, have a look at the powerpoint presentation by

Moira Chan Yeung ENG PTT

Filed under: Asthma, lung


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Annet Lenderink

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