Respiratory symptoms and conditions related to occupational exposures in machine shops.

Respiratory Medicine Unit, Department of Internal Medicine, Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oulu, PO Box 5000, FI-90014, Oulu, Finland.
Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health (Impact Factor: 3.1). 02/2009; 35(1):64-73. DOI: 10.5271/sjweh.1299
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Since there are few data on the effects of metalworking in populations representing a variety of metal companies or on dose-response relationships concerning metalworking, this study investigated the relationship between occupational exposures in machine shops and the occurrence of upper and lower respiratory symptoms, asthma, and chronic bronchitis.
A cross-sectional study of 726 male machine workers and 84 male office workers from 64 companies was conducted in southern Finland. All of the participants filled out a questionnaire, and aerosol measurements were performed in 57 companies.
Exposure to metalworking fluids (MWF) showed a greater risk [odds ratio (OR)>or=2) for upper-airway symptoms, cough, breathlessness, and current asthma than exposures in office work did. Exposure to aerosol levels above the median (>or=0.17 mg/m3 in the general workshop air) was related to an increased risk (OR>or=2) of nasal and throat symptoms, cough, wheezing, breathlessness, chronic bronchitis, and current asthma. Machine workers with a job history of >or=15 years experienced increased throat symptoms, cough, and chronic bronchitis.
This large study representing machine shops in southern Finland showed that machine workers experience increased nasal and throat symptoms, cough, wheezing, breathlessness, and asthma even in environments with exposure levels below the current occupational exposure limit for oil mists. The study suggests that improving machine shop environments could benefit the health of this workforce. It also suggests that it is time to consider reducing the current Finnish occupational exposure limit for oil mist or introducing the use of other health-relevant indicators of exposure.

1 Bookmark
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Occurrence of airway irritation among industrial metal workers was investigated. The aims were to study the association between exposures from water-based metal working fluids (MWF) and the health outcome among the personnel, to assess potential effects on the proteome in nasal mucous membranes, and evaluate preventive actions. The prevalence of airway symptoms related to work were examined among 271 metalworkers exposed to MWF and 24 metal workers not exposed to MWF at the same factory. At the same time, air levels of potentially harmful substances (oil mist, morpholine, monoethanolamine, formaldehyde) generated from MWF was measured. Nasal lavage fluid was collected from 13 workers and 15 controls and protein profiles were determined by a proteomic approach. Airway symptoms were reported in 39% of the workers exposed to MWF although the measured levels of MWF substances in the work place air were low. Highest prevalence was found among workers handling the MWF machines but also those working in the same hall were affected. Improvement of the ventilation to reduce MWF exposure lowered the prevalence of airway problems. Protein profiling showed significantly higher levels of S100-A9 and lower levels of SPLUNC1, cystatin SN, Ig J and β2-microglobulin among workers with airway symptoms. This study confirms that upper airway symptoms among metal workers are a common problem and despite low levels of MWF-generated substances, effects on airway immune proteins are found. Further studies to clarify the role of specific MWF components in connection to airway inflammation and the identified biological markers are warranted.
    PLoS ONE 12/2013; 8(12):e83089. · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: There is increasing evidence on the deleterious role in asthma of the use of household cleaning products in spray forms in adults. Household help might induce misclassification errors. The aim of the present analysis was to study associations between household exposure to cleaning sprays and current asthma in elderly women, taking into account household help. A nested case-control survey on respiratory health was undertaken among a random sample of French women from the E3N study. Data were available for 570 women (235 with current asthma and 335 without asthma history; 68 years old on average, 59% never smokers). Three estimates of domestic exposure were used: 1) self-reported, 2) using principal component analysis, 3) a composite score for sprays. Associations between domestic exposures and asthma were assessed by logistic regression, adjusted for age, educational level, BMI and smoking status. Analyses were further stratified on household help in order to evaluate a potential misclassification bias. Among women without household help (n = 325), a significant association was observed between weekly use of at least one spray and current asthma (OR [95% CI]: 1.86[1.04-3.33]). No association was observed among women with household help. Weekly household use of cleaning sprays may have a deleterious effect on asthma. It is important to take into account household help to limit misclassification bias.
    Respiratory medicine 10/2013; · 2.33 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Current recommendations for limits on metalworking fluids may provide insufficient protection from workplace-related illness. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a challenging outcome in occupational cohorts because its long period of worsening pulmonary function allows sicker workers to reduce exposure, causing a healthy worker survivor bias. G-estimation is a statistical method that reduces this bias. We introduce a public health approach using g-estimation to compare a series of potential exposure-reducing interventions. Autoworkers at three General Motors plants in Michigan were followed for COPD mortality from 1 January 1941 to 31 December 1994. For each of the three fluid types (straight, soluble, synthetic), a series of binary variables indicated whether exposure exceeded a series of potential limits. Separate g-estimation analyses for each limit yielded results expressed as the total number of years of life that could have been saved among those who died from COPD had that exposure limit been enforced. Lower limits would have had greater effect than higher limits. A ban on soluble fluids (the most common type) would have had the greatest effect, saving an estimated 1550 years of life. Corresponding estimates were 737 and 260 years for straight and synthetic fluids, respectively. Few workers were exposed to synthetic fluids, limiting analytic power. This application of g-estimation suggests that limiting exposure to metalworking fluids could have saved many years of life lost to COPD in this cohort. The approach permits comparison of different interventions. Separate limits should be considered for different types of fluids.
    Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.) 03/2014; · 5.51 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Available from
May 29, 2014