Objectives: After a plastic reprocessing factory began to operate in August 2004, the residents around the factory in Neyagawa, Osaka, Japan, began to complain of symptoms. Therefore, we conducted an exposure assessment and a population-based epidemiological study in 2006. Methods: To assess exposure, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and total VOCs were measured at two locations in the vicinity of the factory. In the population-based study, a total of 3,950 residents were targeted. A self-administered questionnaire was used to collect information about subjects’ mucocutaneous or respiratory symptoms. Using logistic regression models, we compared the prevalence of symptoms in July 2006 by employing the farthest area from the factory as a reference, and prevalence odds ratios (PORs) and their 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated. Results: The concentration of total VOCs was higher in the vicinity of the factory. The prevalence of mucocutaneous and respiratory symptoms was the highest among the residents in the closest area to the factory. Some symptoms were significantly increased among the residents within 500 m of the factory compared with residents of an area 2800 m from the factory: e.g., sore throat (POR=3.2, 95% CI: 1.3–8.0), eye itch (POR=3.0, 95% CI: 1.5–6.0), eye discharge (POR=6.0, 95% CI: 2.3–15.9), eczema (POR=3.0, 95% CI: 1.1–7.9) and sputum (POR=2.4, 95% CI: 1.1–5.1). Conclusions: Despite of the limitations of this study, these results imply a possible association of open-air VOCs with mucocutaneous and respiratory symptoms. Because this kind of plasticre cycling factory only recently came into operation, more attention should be paid to the operation of plastic recycling factories in the environment.
Objectives: Workers in the financial services sector are exposed to great stress at work. This study investigates whether exposure to adverse psychosocial work conditions is independently associated with poor health-related physical and mental quality of life among financial services workers. Methods: We studied a nationwide representative sample of 2,054 workers of a large Brazilian state bank in 2008. Adverse psychosocial work conditions were investigated by the Effort-reward imbalance (ERI) scale and the Job content questionnaire (JCQ). Health-related quality of life (HRQL) was assessed using the Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form General Health Survey (SF-12). Poor mental and physical HRQL was defined by the lowest quartiles of the SF-12 final score distributions. Associations were investigated using multiple logistic regression analysis. Results: In the multivariate analysis, exposures to low control and lack of social support at work (JCQ) were associated with poor HRQL in the physical domain. Increasing effort-reward imbalance and overcommitment (ERI), on the other hand, were associated with poor HRQL in the mental domain, with a significant statistical trend. Overcommitment was also associated with poor physical HRQL. Conclusion: The results suggest that exposure to adverse psychosocial work conditions has a negative impact on both domains of HRQL among financial service workers. They also indicate that ERI and DC models capture different aspects of job strain.
Objectives: The purpose of this study was to clarify the occurrence of Raynaud’s phenomenon among workers using an impact wrench for a long time. Methods: The subjects were 704 workers regularly using an impact wrench and taking special medical examinations for vibration syndrome from 1981 to 2008. Raynaud’s phenomenon was observed in 39 subjects during the observation period. Results: The mean operating years at the occurrence of Raynaud’s phenomenon was 25.5 ± 8.3 (standard deviation) yr. The mean total operating time (geometric average) at the occurrence of Raynaud’s phenomenon was 11,689 h. By the person-year method, the incidence rate of Raynaud’s phenomenon was 6.27 persons per 1,000 person-years. The estimated risk of developing Raynaud’s phenomenon did not increase until 12 years after starting to operate an impact wrench but increased exponentially after that. The vibration level of an impact wrench (from 4.9 m/s2 to 22.6 m/s2) exceeded the occupational exposure limit value (4.9 m/s2). Various countermeasures, such as introducing automatically apparatus and keeping the working environment warm to protect from cold exposure, were taken at the factory. Conclusions: These findings showed that the rate of occurrence of Raynaud’s phenomenon was not high, although the vibration level of the impact wrench was high. This may result from various countermeasures to prevent the occurrence of Raynaud’s phenomenon. A long period of exposure to vibration had the potential to lead to the occurrence of Raynaud’s phenomenon even under various countermeasures.
Objectives: Suspended indium dust in an indium-recycling plant was quantified, in order to improve the work environment and to reduce workers’ exposure to the dust. Methods: Assessment of indium dust in the workplace air by multipoint area sampling and personal breathing zone sampling was conducted twice in 2004 and 2008. Results: In 2004, all recycling processes except for purity analysis were classified into control class III according to the 2004 Notification. Two out of 5 workers were exposed to total dust with indium concentrations exceeding the ACGIH’s TLV-TWA of 0.1 mg In/m3. In 2008, the indium-contaminated workplace air was improved by local exhaust ventilation systems installed in some processes, resulting in control class I. According to the 2010 Technical Guideline, however, all the processes were classified into stage II or III, indicating that the first assessment value or Measurement B-based concentrations exceeded the acceptable exposure concentration limit of 0.0003 mg In/m3 of respirabe dust. Exposure of almost all the workers to indium dust was below the TLV-TWA. Conclusions: The first field survey showed that almost all workplaces were classified into control class III, and that some workers were exposed to dust with indium concentrations exceeding the TLV-TWA. It was found in the second survey that workplace air contamination was improved by the local exhaust ventilation system, but was not reduced sufficiently to a level that meets the new Guideline.
Objectives: In recent decades, work ability index (WAI) has been a common practical tool to measure individuals’ work ability in many European, Asian and South American countries. However, there is no study concerning work ability in Iran. The aim of this study was to determine the work ability index in an Iranian petrochemical job setting and to examine its relationship with psychosocial factors. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among 420 male workers in various occupations. Work ability was evaluated using the WAI questionnaire developed by FIOH; the Job content questionnaire (JCQ) was used to assess psychosocial factors. Results: The mean WAI score was 39.1 (SD=5.7) among workers in the studied petrochemical industry. Multiple linear regression analysis revealed a significant association between mean WAI score and age, job tenure, educational level, rest and sleep status and vocational education. Moreover, the results showed that skill discretion, coworker support and supervisor support were positively associated with the mean WAI score. On the other hand, it was inversely associated with job demands, job strain and job insecurity. Conclusions: This study was the first research to determine WAI in an important industry in Iran. Overall, work ability was in the “Good” category among the workers in the studied field. On the basis of the WAI guidelines, this level should be maintained and promoted to excellent level by providing supportive countermeasures. The WAI score was significantly associated with psychosocial factors. The results showed that even in heavy physical work, factors such as job insecurity, skill discretion, job strain and social support play an important role in maintaining work ability. A positive combination of “psychosocial characteristics” of the job with “individual resources” can promote work ability in such occupations.
Objectives: The aim of the present study was to translate, adapt and validate the Effort-reward imbalance (ERI) questionnaire in a sample of Greek healthcare professionals. Methods: An internationally recommended methodology was followed to perform translation of the ERI instrument into the Greek language. The questionnaire was then randomly administered to 600 Greek physicians, nurses, physiotherapists and laboratory staff, and 456 questionnaires with no missing data on the ERI items were returned (76% response rate). Tool validation included assessment of internal consistency, factorial structure, discriminant validity and presence of floor or ceiling effects. Criterion validity was demonstrated by investigating the association of theoretically relevant ERI summary measurements with respondents’ self-rated health. Results: The Greek version of the ERI questionnaire showed good psychometric properties. Cronbach’s alpha values were 0.79, 0.72 and 0.75 for the three ERI scales of effort, reward and overcommitment respectively. Exploratory factor analysis yielded a 5-factor solution that closely reflected the original theoretical ERI model. Significant associations were found between respondents’ age, gender and specific occupation with ERI scores. ERI ratio and “overcommitment” scores in the highest tertiles were associated with elevated odds ratios (OR) of below-average self-rated health (OR=5.38, 95% confidence intervals 1.77 to 16.38, p=0.003, and OR=3.41, 95% confidence intervals 1.39 to 8.38, p=0.007, respectively). Conclusions: The translated and adapted Greek version is comparable with the original ERI instrument in terms of validity and factorial structure and is suitable for assessment of the psychosocial work environment of Greek healthcare professionals.
Objectives: Linear accelerators operating at or above 10 MV produce neutrons by photonuclear reactions and induce activation in machine components, which are a source of potential exposure for radiation therapists. This study estimated gamma dose contributions to radiation therapists during high energy, whole pelvic, photon beam treatments and determined the optimum room entry times, in terms of safety of radiation therapists. Methods: Two types of technique (anterior-posterior opposing and 3-field technique) were studied. An Elekta Precise treatment system, operating up to 18 MV, was investigated. Measurements with an area monitoring device (a Mini 900R radiation monitor) were performed, to calculate gamma dose rates around the radiotherapy facility. Measurements inside the treatment room were performed when the linear accelerator was in use. The doses received by radiation therapists were estimated, and optimum room entry times were determined. Results: The highest gamma dose rates were approximately 7 μSv/h inside the treatment room, while the doses in the control room were close to background (~0 μSv/h) for all techniques. The highest personal dose received by radiation therapists was estimated at 5 mSv/yr. To optimize protection, radiation therapists should wait for up to11 min after beam-off prior to room entry. Conclusions: The potential risks to radiation therapists with standard safety procedures were well below internationally recommended values, but risks could be further decreased by delaying room entry times. Dependent on the technique used, optimum entry times ranged between 7 to 11 min. A balance between moderate treatment times versus reduction in measured equivalent doses should be considered.
Objectives: Ethylene glycol monomethyl ether (EGME) and ethylene glycol monomethyl ether acetate (EGMEA) are widely used in industries as solvents for coatings, paint and ink, but exposure data are limited because they are minor components out of mixed solvents, as well as because of inconsistency in desorption solvent use. The objective of this study was to investigate the worker exposure profile of EGME and EGMEA. Methods: Our study investigated 27 workplaces from June to September 2008 and detected EGME and EGMEA in 20 and 13, respectively. Both personal and area sampling were conducted using a charcoal tube to collect EGME and EGMEA. Gas chromatography with a flame ionization detector was used to analyze these compounds after desorption using a mixture of methylene chloride and methanol. Results: The arithmetic mean concentrations of EGME and EGMEA during periods of full work shifts were 2.59 ppm and 0.33 ppm, respectively. The exposure levels were lower than the Korean Ministry of Labor (MOL) OEL (5 ppm) but higher than the ACGIH TLV (0.1 ppm). Conclusions: In general, the working environments were poor and required much improvement, including the use of personal protective equipment. Only 50% of the workplaces had local exhaust ventilation systems in operation. The average capture velocity of the operating local exhaust ventilation systems was 0.27 m/s, which did not meet the legal requirement of 0.5 m/s. Educating workers to clearly understand the handling and use of hazardous chemicals and improving working conditions are strongly suggested.
Objectives: The first large-scale population survey was conducted in Taiwan to examine if and to what extent health disparities of four major chronic physical conditions exist among occupations. Methods: Face-to-face interviews about two risk behaviors (i.e., cigarette and alcohol use) and four major chronic physical conditions (i.e., cardiovascular disease, diabetes, liver disease and asthma) were conducted with 13,741 workers from nine major categories of occupations. Results: Health disparities among occupations were found based on a series of hierarchical logistic regression analyses after controlling for age, sex and two risk behaviors. In general, prevalence rates of cardiovascular disease among elementary occupations and skilled agricultural and fishery workers were approximately two to four times higher than those among other occupations. The above two occupations and plant and machine operators also had higher prevalence rates in diabetes and liver disease. Conclusions: The results concerning health disparities among occupations provide policymakers and researchers with invaluable benchmarks of chronic physical conditions among occupations. The findings also suggest the importance of investigating causal relationship between these diseases and exposures at work, identifying and reducing unique risk factors and hazard exposures experienced by workers and conducting targeted surveillance and health promotion programs for at-risk occupations.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to examine the efficacy of a self-administered questionnaire as a prescreening tool to determine the immune status against measles among non-healthcare workers. Methods: The study subjects were Japanese non-healthcare workers aged 19–30 yr employed at a gas company that underwent an annual health checkup in 2009. Their histories of measles infection, vaccination and possible contact with measles patients were collected through a self-administered questionnaire. The sensitivity and specificity of these self-reports were analyzed against a serum anti-measles IgG assay as a gold standard. Results: Of the 509 respondents, 93.3% had immunity against measles. The sensitivity, specificity and positive predictive values for the self-report questionnaire were 14.1, 97.1 and 98.5% for infection history; 39.2, 73.5 and 95.4% for vaccination history; and 13.1, 85.3 and 92.5% for possible contact history, respectively. Conclusions: Self-reported histories poorly predicted immune status against measles in young Japanese non-healthcare workers. The results suggest that a universal serological screening is still the most effective method available to identify those who require measles vaccination.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to study the impact of chronic diseases on work ability in different age groups of Dutch firefighters. Methods: Firefighters filled out a questionnaire about the presence of nine types of chronic diseases and rated their current work ability (0 unable to10 best ever). The differences in work ability in firefighters in total and in four age groups with and without chronic diseases were calculated with a Fisher’s exact test. Results: Of 276 firefighters 23% reported having a chronic disease, with the rate varying among the age groups between 18 and 41%. Median work ability was 8, varying between 7 and 8 in the age groups. No significant difference was found in work ability for firefighters with and without chronic diseases, independent of the age groups. Conclusions: Having a chronic disease is not associated with a significantly lower self-reported work ability estimate in firefighters.