Genetic Variants in the Major Histocompatibility Complex Class I and Class II Genes Are Associated With Diisocyanate-Induced Asthma

Objective: To investigate the association between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) located across the major histocompatibility complex and susceptibility to diisocyanate-induced asthma (DA).
Methods: The study population consisted of 140 diisocyanate-exposed workers. Genotyping was performed using the Illumina GoldenGate major histocompatibility complex panels.
Results: The HLA-E rs1573294 and HLA-DPB1 rs928976 SNPs were associated with an increased risk of DA under dominant (odds ratio [OR], 6.27; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.37 to 16.6; OR, 2.79, 95% CI, 0.99 to 7.81, respectively) and recessive genetic models (OR, 6.27, 95% CI, 1.63 to 24.13; OR, 10.10, 95% CI, 3.16 to 32.33, respectively). The HLA-B rs1811197, HLA-DOA rs3128935, and HLA-DQA2 rs7773955 SNPs conferred an increased risk of DA in a dominant model (OR, 7.64, 95% CI, 2.25 to 26.00; OR, 19.69, 95% CI, 2.89 to 135.25; OR, 8.43, 95% CI, 3.03 to 23.48, respectively).
Conclusion: These results suggest that genetic variations within HLA genes play a role in DA risk.

Source: Yucesoy, Berran PhD; Johnson, Victor J. PhD; Lummus, Zana L. PhD; Kashon, Michael L. PhD; Rao, Marepalli PhD; Bannerman-Thompson, Hansen PhD; Frye, Bonnie BSc; Wang, Wei MS; Gautrin, Denyse PhD; Cartier, André MD; Boulet, Louis-Philippe MD; Sastre, Joaquin MD; Quirce, Santiago MD; Tarlo, Susan M. MD; Germolec, Dori R. PhD; Luster, Michael I. PhD; Bernstein, David I. MD. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: April 2014 - Volume 56 - Issue 4 - p 382–387.

Continued Spirometry Changes After Cessation of Exposure in Asbestos-Cement Workers

Objective: To assess further progression of spirometry parameters among former asbestos-cement plant workers.
Methods: The following parameters were assessed: forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), forced vital capacity (FVC), and the ratio (FEV1/FVC) using a linear regression model with mixed effects.
Results: The analysis included 3005 individuals. Spirometrically defined restrictive ventilatory defects were registered in 21.6% of the patients, obstructive defects in 8.3%, whereas mixed changes in 7%. Current smokers had significantly lower levels of FEV1, FVC, and FEV1/FVC and a steeper decline compared with nonsmokers. More rapid progression was also observed along with increasing termination of exposure. Having higher exposure was associated with a slower decline in FEV1 and FEV1/FVC ratios.
Conclusions: This report indicates that asbestos-cement workers with higher cumulative exposure still had lower mean levels of spirometric parameters, despite cessation of asbestos exposure many years ago.

Source: Swiatkowska, Beata PhD; Wojciech, Sobala MSc; Szubert, Zuzanna PhD; Szeszenia-Dabrowska, Neonila Prof. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: April 2014 - Volume 56 - Issue 4 - p 403–408.

Occupational Determinants of Cumulative Lead Exposure

Analysis of Bone Lead Among Men in the VA Normative Aging Study
Objectives: To examine the relation between occupation and cumulative lead exposure—assessed by measuring bone lead—in a community-dwelling population.
Method: We measured bone lead concentration with K-shell X-Ray Fluorescence in 1320 men in the Normative Aging Study. We categorized job titles into 14 broad US Census Bureau categories. We used ordinary least squares regression to estimate bone lead by job categories adjusted for other predictors.
Results: Service workers, construction, and extractive craft workers and installation, maintenance, and repair craft workers had the highest bone lead concentrations. Including occupations significantly improved the overall model (P < 0.001) and reduced by 15% to 81% the association between bone lead and education categories.
Conclusion: Occupation significantly predicts cumulative lead exposure in a community-dwelling population and accounts for a large proportion of the association between education and bone lead.

Source: Ji, John S. ScD; Schwartz, Joel PhD; Sparrow, David DSc; Hu, Howard MD, MPH, ScD; Weisskopf, Marc G. PhD, ScD. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: April 2014 - Volume 56 - Issue 4 - p 435–440.

Occupational Heat Strain in a Hot Underground Metal Mine

Objective: In a hot underground metal mine, this study evaluated the relationship between job task, physical body type, work shift, and heat strain.
Methods: Thirty-one miners were evaluated during 98 shifts while performing deep shaft-sinking tasks. Continuous core body temperature, heart rate, pre- and postshift urine specific gravity (USG), and body mass index were measured.
Results: Cutting and welding tasks were associated with significantly (P < 0.05) increased core body temperature, maximum heart rate, and increased postshift urine specific gravity. Miners in the obese level II and III body mass index categories, as well as those working night shift, had lower core body temperatures (P < 0.05).
Conclusions: This study confirms that job task, body type, and shift are risk factors for heat strain.

Source: Lutz, Eric A. PhD, CMSP; Reed, Rustin J. MPH; Turner, Dylan BSPH; Littau, Sally R. BS, MT. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine:
April 2014 - Volume 56 - Issue 4 - p 388–396. 


Health hazards and control measures
This guidance is primarily aimed at employers and managers of people exposed to ozone in the course of their work. Other groups, such as employees and health and safety professionals, will also find the guidance useful.
It draws attention to the potential ill health which exposure to ozone can cause and indicates potential sources of ozone at work as well as offering advice on the precautions you may need to take to prevent or control exposure.


Outbreak of silicosis in Spanish quartz conglomerate workers

Objectives: To describe the epidemiological and clinical characteristics of an outbreak of occupational silicosis and the associated working conditions.
Methods: Cases were defined as men working in the stone cutting, shaping, and finishing industry in the province of Cádiz, diagnosed with silicosis between July 2009 and May 2012, and were identified and diagnosed by the department of pulmonology of the University Hospital of Puerto Real (Cádiz). A census of workplaces using quartz conglomerates was carried out to determine total numbers of potentially exposed workers. A patient telephone survey on occupational exposures and a review of medical records for all participants were conducted.
Results: Silicosis was diagnosed in 46 men with a median age of 33 years and a median of 11 years working in the manufacturing of countertops. Of these cases, 91·3% were diagnosed with simple chronic silicosis, with an abnormal high-resolution computerized tomography (HRCT) scan. One patient died during the study period. Employer non-compliance in prevention and control measures was frequently reported, as were environmental and individual protection failures.
Conclusions: The use of new construction materials such as quartz conglomerates has increased silicosis incidence due to intensive occupational exposures, in the context of high demand fuelled by the housing boom. This widespread exposure poses a risk if appropriate preventive measures are not undertaken.

Source: Aránzazu Pérez-Alonso, Juan Antonio Córdoba-Doña, José Luis Millares-Lorenzo, Estrella Figueroa-Murillo, Cristina García-Vadillo, José Romero-Morillo. International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health. Volume 20 Issue 1 (January-March 2014), pp. 26-32.

Exposure to Lead in Great Britain 2014

There was an overall reduction in the number of British workers under medical surveillance for work with lead over the past decade. Women have consistently accounted for a small proportion of the total under surveillance, and the number of young people (under 18 years) under surveillance remains low.
The most recent medical surveillance data show:
- The total number of workers under medical surveillance fell by 47% from 7949 in 2011/12 to 4240 in 2012/13
- The industry sector with the highest number of males under surveillance was the lead battery manufacture sector, with numbers similar to previous years
- There were substantial reductions in the number of males under surveillance in a number of other sectors, including the smelting, refining, alloying and casting industry
- In 2012/13, 3 males had blood-lead levels of 60µg/100ml or above compared with 142 males in 2002/03
- There was a large increase in the number of females in the potteries, glazes and transfers sector, which in previous years had very low numbers under surveillance
- In 2012/13, 4 females had blood-lead levels of 30µg/100ml or above compared with 18 females in 2002/03
- There were 8 suspensions (4 males and 4 females) due to excess blood-lead levels in workers under surveillance in 2012/13


Occupational Risk Factors for Chronic Respiratory Disease in a New Zealand Population Using Lifetime Occupational History

Objectives: To investigate associations between respiratory disease and occupational exposures in a New Zealand urban population, the Wellington Respiratory Survey.
Methods: Multiple regression analyses in a population sample of 1017 individuals aged 25 to 74 years with spirometry and questionnaire information, including a lifetime occupational history.
Results: Chronic bronchitis symptoms were associated with self-reported exposure to hairdressing, paint manufacturing, insecticides, welding, detergents and with ALOHA Job Exposure Matrix–assessed gases/fumes exposure. The strongest association was for hairdressing (odds ratio 6.91; 95% confidence interval: 2.02 to 23.70). Cumulative exposure to mineral dust and gases/fumes was associated with higher FEV1% (forced expiratory volume in the first second of expiration) predicted. Analyses were limited by relatively small numbers of cases.
Conclusions: Increased risks of objectively defined respiratory disease, which have been previously documented, were not seen. Nevertheless, the study suggested increased risk of respiratory symptoms with various occupational exposures as well as likely healthy worker effect.

Source: Hansell, Anna MB, BChir, PhD; Ghosh, Rebecca E. PhD; Poole, Suzanne MBChB, MD; Zock, Jan-Paul PhD; Weatherall, Mark MBChB, BA, MApplStats; Vermeulen, Roel PhD; Kromhout, Hans PhD; Travers, Justin MBChB; Beasley, Richard MBChB, DSc. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: March 2014 - Volume 56 - Issue 3 - p 270–280.

Silica Hazards from Engineered Stone Countertops

A new engineered stone countertop product known as “quartz surfacing,” was created in the late 1980s by combining quartz aggregate with resins to create a product for use in home building and home improvement.  Manufacturing of this material, including products such as CaesarStone™, Silestone™, Zodiaq™, or Cambria™ is a fast growing industry.  First made in Israel and Spain, production of these materials has grown world-wide, driving quartz slab imports to the U.S. up 63% between 2011 and 2012 and 48% between April 2012 and April 2013 (Schwartzkopf 2013, StatWatch 2013).  Quartz surfacing materials may contain up to 93% crystalline silica (Dupont 2010).  In contrast, the percent of crystalline silica in a slab of granite is less than 45%, darker color granite has a lower percentage (Simcox et al. 1999).  Workers who fabricate and install quartz surfacing are at risk for overexposure to silica released during sizing, cutting, grinding and polishing.  Prolonged inhalation of dust from silica-containing materials can lead to silicosis (scarring of the lungs).  In addition to silicosis, scientific evidence indicates that occupational exposure to crystalline silica puts workers at increased risk for  other serious health conditions: chronic obstructive lung disease, lung cancer, kidney and connective tissue disease, and tuberculosis.  The focus of this blog is on silicosis, which has occurred in multiple workers in this industry.


Factors Associated With Heat Strain Among Workers at an Aluminum Smelter in Texas

Objectives: To determine the prevalence of heat strain and factors associated with heat strain among workers at an aluminum smelter in Texas.
Methods: Continuous core body temperature (Tc), heart rate, and pre- and postshift serum electrolytes, and urine specific gravity were measured, and symptom questionnaires were administered.
Results: Most participants (54%) had 1 or more signs of heat strain. Unacclimatized participants were significantly more likely to exceed the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists–recommended Tc than acclimatized participants (88% vs 20%; P < 0.01). Participants who exceeded the Tc for their acclimatization status and/or exceeded the recommended sustained peak HR had a significantly lower body mass index than those who did not (27.6 vs 31.8 and 28.4 vs 32.4, respectively; P = 0.01).
Conclusions: Employees and management need to strictly adhere to a heat stress management program to minimize heat stress and strain.

Source: Dang, Bich N. MD; Dowell, Chad H. MS, CIH. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: March 2014 - Volume 56 - Issue 3 - p 313–318.


International Conference on Monitoring and Surveillance of Asbestos-Related Diseases

11-13 February 2014, Finland
During the conference six keynote lectures were given. Furthermore 36 oral free communications and 20 poster presentations was presented in the parallel sessions.


Occupational Exposure to Cyclophosphamide in Nurses at a Single Center

Objective: To evaluate biological and environmental exposure to cyclophosphamide in nurses at a single institution.
Methods: Biological exposure to cyclophosphamide in nurses administering cyclophosphamide compared with two control groups: nononcology nurses not administering cyclophosphamide and community members without recent hospital exposure. Environmental exposure to chemotherapy was measured using surface wipes taken from oncology and nononcology areas in the hospital.
Results: More than one third of all nurses and no community controls tested positive for urinary cyclophosphamide. Oncology and nurse controls tested positive in equal numbers. Surface wipes were positive only in the oncology ward.
Conclusion: We have demonstrated elevated levels of cyclophosphamide in one third of all nurses and cyclophosphamide contamination of surfaces within the oncology patient environment. This suggests that environmental contamination plays a major role in biological exposure to cyclophosphamide.

Source: Ramphal, Raveena MBChB, MPH; Bains, Tejinder BSc (Pharm); Vaillancourt, Régis B Pharm, Pharm D; Osmond, Martin H. MDCM; Barrowman, Nicholas PhD. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: March 2014 - Volume 56 - Issue 3 - p 304–312.

Paraoxonase 1 and Its Relationship With Pesticide Biomarkers in Indigenous Mexican Farmworkers

Objective: Biomarkers of pesticide toxicity and paraoxonase 1 (PON1) phenotype and genotypes were evaluated in indigenous Mexican farmworkers exposed mainly to organophosphate (OP) pesticides.
Methods: Acetylcholinesterase, butyrylcholinesterase, and PON1 activities—arylesterase and CMPAase activities—were evaluated spectrophotometrically. PON1 55 and 192 polymorphisms were determined by real-time polymerase chain reaction. Hematological parameters were evaluated using a cytometer.
Results: Butyrylcholinesterase and arylesterase activities were lower in farmworkers, who also showed lower levels of leukocytes but higher percentages of lymphocytes when compared with the nonexposed group. Our results showed a high frequency of OP, high hydrolysis-related PON1 alleles (LL/QR and LL/RR) in the study population. An association was observed between CMPAase activity and PON1Q192R polymorphism.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that pesticide exposure modifies biochemical and hematological biomarkers in the study population, and that the phenotype of PON1 (CMPAase) is a sensible susceptibility biomarker of OP pesticide toxicity.

Source: Bernal-Hernández, Yael Yvette PhD; Medina-Díaz, Irma Martha PhD; Barrón-Vivanco, Briscia Socorro PhD; Robledo-Marenco, María de Lourdes PhD; Girón-Pérez, Manuel Iván PhD; Pérez-Herrera, Norma Elena PhD; Quintanilla-Vega, Betzabet PhD; Cerda-Flores, Ricardo PhD; Rojas-García, Aurora Elizabeth PhD. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: March 2014 - Volume 56 - Issue 3 - p 281–290.

Le formaldéhyde, une substance omniprésente et dangereuse

Des effets graves sur la santé en cas d'exposition massive ou répétée
Le formaldéhyde, appelé aussi aldéhyde formique, a des utilisations très variées. Il peut être également émis par une activité ou un procédé et donner lieu ainsi à des expositions dans de nombreux secteurs d'activités. Or, c'est une substance dangereuse pour la santé. Produisant des effets irritants voire corrosifs, elle peut être à l'origine d'allergies cutanées ou respiratoires. Cette substance devrait être classée comme cancérogène avéré par l'Union européenne à partir de 2015.


Urinary S-phenylmercapturic Acid as a Key Biomarker for Measuring Occupational Exposure to Low Concentrations of Benzene in Chinese Workers

A Pilot Study
Objective: This study analyzed the level of urinary S-phenylmercapturic acid (U-SPMA) for low benzene exposure in a group of Chinese shoe-making workers.
Methods: Urinary samples from 55 workers exposed to benzene at levels lower than 10 parts per million (ppm) were collected at postshift. U-SPMA level was determined using high-performance liquid chromatography/mass spectrography (HPLC/MS) method.
Results: Good linearity of U-SPMA was observed within the range from 10 to 320 μg/L (r = 0.9994). Concentration of airborne benzene ranged from 0.71 to 32.17 mg/m3, and three segments were divided with different levels of exposure (≤6.0, 6.0 to 10.0, 10 to 32.5 mg/m3), the median U-SPMA concentrations were 49.55, 102.15, and 335.69 μg/g Cr, respectively.
Conclusion: A good linear correlation was found between U-SPMA levels and airborne benzene concentrations. The selected method could be applied for detecting other working conditions in China.

Source: Lv, Bi-hua MM; Song, Shi-zhen PhD; Zhang, Zhibing PhD; Mei, Yong PhD; Ye, Fang-li MB. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine:
March 2014 - Volume 56 - Issue 3 - p 319–325

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