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: 3.45). 02/2009; 35(1):64-73. DOI: 10.5271/sjweh.1299
Source: PubMed


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.

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Available from: Maritta Jaakkola, Oct 09, 2015
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    • "The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has conducted a number of studies on the health effects of aerosol exposure among machine shop workers and pointed out the need for implementing appropriate control measures (NIOSH, 2003; NIOSH 2007). A recent study showed that machine shop workers exposed to aerosol below accepted safe exposure limit values (Jaakkola et al., 2009) still experienced severe occupational problems. The die sinking Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) process is one of the most widely used non-traditional manufacturing processes that still has a considerably negative environmental impact. "
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of the study was to identify specific health risks and exposure-response relationships associated with exposure to metalworking fluid (MWF) aerosols. In a cross-sectional study of machine workers exposed to MWF aerosols in five companies in Sweden, a self-administered questionnaire about health symptoms, work tasks, and exposure situations was sent out to 2294 employees, 1632 exposed and 662 referents. Referents were office workers and metal workers not working with MWFs. In four of the companies, there were recent measurements of personal exposure to MWF aerosols. Log-binomial regression models were used to estimate prevalence ratios with 95% confidence intervals for different health outcomes in relation to different variables of exposure. The response rate after two reminders was 67% resulting in 1048 (923 male, 125 female) workers exposed to MWF aerosols and 451 (374 male, 77 female) referents. The study indicates that metal workers in Sweden currently exposed to a mean value of MWF aerosols of 0.4 mg m(-3) have a significantly higher prevalence of wheeze, chronic bronchitis, chronic rhinitis, and eye irritation compared to the referents. At a mean exposure of 0.4 mg m(-3), a level below the Swedish 8-h exposure limit value of 1 mg m(-3), machine operators showed increased prevalence of symptoms in eyes and airways. Thus, the current exposure limit value does not seem to protect the workers from such symptoms.
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