Hojang Kwon

Dankook University, Eidō, North Chungcheong, South Korea

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Publications (15)4.2 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Children are one of the most vulnerable populations to the impact of disasters. We aimed to examine children's mental health in the area affected by the Hebei Spirit oil spill accident on December 7, 2007. A cross-sectional questionnaire survey was conducted using the Korean versions of the Children's Depression Inventory and State Anxiety Inventory for Children on 1,362 children attending elementary schools in the affected area. The information on distances between the nearest contaminated coastline to the child's residential house or attending school were obtained using a web-based map by inputting two address points. The symptom risks of depression and state anxiety were estimated by multiple logistic regression analyses adjusted for age, gender, and other covariates. Children with the closest distance (in the fourth quartile) to the school from the contaminated coastline showed a significantly higher symptom risk of depression compared to those with the farthest distance (first quartile)(odds ratio, 2.73; 95% confidence interval, 1.40-5.33), while there was no significant association between anxiety symptoms and distance. Children, a vulnerable population for mental health impact by the oil spill accident, should be included in mental health programs in the community along with their family as victims of the disaster.
    Environmental health and toxicology. 01/2013; 28:e2013010.
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    ABSTRACT: On December 7th, 2007, the Hong Kong tanker Hebei Spirit (HS) (146,848 tons) was crushed by a crane ship near the shore of Taean, Korea. More than 12,547 kl of crude oil spilled into the sea and contaminated the western coastline of the Korean peninsula. For a period of six months after the accident, approximately 1,000,000 volunteers participated in the cleanup. Our goal in this study was to examine the exposure status and acute health effects on volunteers that participated in the oil spill cleanup. A survey questionnaire was filled out by 565 volunteers, requesting information regarding physical symptoms. Out of the total number of participants, urine samples from 105 university student volunteers were collected before and after the cleanup work, and metabolite levels of volatile organic compounds and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were analyzed. Volunteers that participated for longer cleanup work reported an increase in physical symptoms including visual disturbance, nasal and bronchus irritation, headaches, heart palpitations, fatigue and fever, memory and cognitive disturbance, and abdominal pain. The levels of t,t-muconic acid, mandelic acid, and 1-hydroxypyrene were significantly higher in samples after cleanup than those measured before participation (p<0.05). Other than the associated risk of dermal irritation with the difference in the t,t-muconic acid level between the post- to pre-cleanup levels, no other physical symptoms demonstrated a significant association with changes observed in the levels of urinary metabolites. Based on the significant increase of subjective symptoms in volunteers participating in the study, monitoring of the long term health effects, focusing on those with longer exposure, is warranted.
    Science of The Total Environment 05/2012; 429:167-73. · 3.16 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Bisphenol A (BPA)-based dental composites have commonly been used to fill dental cavities or seal pits and fissures on teeth. However, epidemiological evidence with regard to the BPA exposure from dental composites among children has rarely been reported. This study investigated whether there is a relationship between the BPA concentration in urine and the presence of composite restorations and sealants among South Korean children. Oral examinations and urine sample analyses were conducted on a total of 495 children aged 8-9 years. We classified the participants into four groups by the number of resin composites and sealant surfaces (0, 1-5, 6-10 and 11+). BPA concentrations in urine were higher in children with 11 or more surfaces restored with sealants and resin composites than in those with zero restored surfaces, although no difference was seen in the group with 1-10 surfaces. After adjusting for gender and age, the urinary BPA concentration in children with 11 or more resin composite surfaces was 2.67 μg/g creatinine, which was higher than the concentration found in those with no filling surfaces (P < 0.01). Having many dental composite filling surfaces on teeth may increase the urinary BPA concentration in children.
    International Dental Journal 04/2012; 62(2):65-9. · 1.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Childhood allergic diseases are a major concern because they lead to a heavy economic burden and poor quality of life. The purpose of this study was to investigate the prevalence of childhood atopic dermatitis, asthma, allergic rhinitis, and the comorbidity of allergic diseases in Seoul, Korea. We conducted a cross-sectional survey between May and October 2010 to evaluate the prevalence of childhood allergic diseases, including atopic dermatitis, asthma, and allergic rhinitis, using a questionnaire from the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood group. Each questionnaire was completed by the parent or guardian of a child. In the 31,201 children studied, the prevalence of atopic dermatitis symptoms in the past 12 months was 19.3% in children 0 to 3 years of age, 19.7% in children 4 to 6 years of age, 16.7% in children 7 to 9 years of age, and 14.5% in children 10 to 13 years of age (p for trend < 0.001). The prevalence of asthma in these age groups was 16.5%, 9.8%, 6.5%, and 5.4%, respectively (p for trend < 0.001). The prevalence of allergic rhinitis in these age groups was 28.5%, 38.0%, 38.5%, and 35.9%, respectively (p for trend = 0.043). The percentage of subjects with both atopic dermatitis and asthma, both asthma and allergic rhinitis, or both atopic dermatitis and allergic rhinitis was 2.5%, 4.7%, and 8.7%, respectively. The prevalence of comorbid allergic diseases decreased with age (p for trend < 0.001). Our study revealed that the prevalence of some allergic diseases, such as atopic dermatitis and asthma, was relatively high in very young children and that all of the principal allergic diseases in children often co-exist.
    Environmental health and toxicology. 01/2012; 27:e2012006.
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    ABSTRACT: [This corrects the article on p. e2011007 in vol. 26, PMID: 22125768.].
    Environmental health and toxicology. 01/2012; 27:e2012009.
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    ABSTRACT: This study examined the association between socioeconomic factors and asthma symptoms. A total of 6,919 elementary school children in Seoul were enrolled in the study. Data were obtained from a web-based questionnaire survey. The questionnaire was based on the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood core module. The prevalence of wheeze in the past 12 months and severe asthma symptoms were obtained. The potential risk factors for asthma symptoms included household income and the number of siblings. A multiple logistic regression analysis was used to calculate the odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) for the risk factors of asthma symptoms. The prevalence of current wheeze (wheeze in the past 12 months) was 5.2%. Household income and asthma symptoms were inversely associated after adjusting for other potential risk factors (p for trend=0.03). This association was modified by the number of siblings. With two or more siblings, the effect of household income on asthma symptoms was not significant. However, low household income was still a significant variable for patients with fewer than two siblings (OR 1.41; 95% CI, 1.09-1.81). It appears that childhood asthma disparity is dependent on household income. Therefore, policies to improve childhood health inequities should be emphasized.
    Environmental health and toxicology. 01/2012; 27:e2012020.
  • American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry/Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Joint Annual Meeting; 10/2011
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    ABSTRACT: This study was conducted to examine the relationship between crude oil exposure and physical symptoms among residents participating in clean-up work associated with the Hebei Spirit oil spill, 2007 in Korea. A total of 288 residents responded to a questionnaire regarding subjective physical symptoms, sociodemographic characteristics and clean-up activities that occurred between two and eight weeks after the accident. Additionally, the urine of 154 of the respondents was analyzed for metabolites of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals. To compare the urinary levels of exposure biomarkers, the urine of 39 inland residents who were not directly exposed to the oil spill were analyzed. Residents exposed to oil remnants through clean-up work showed associations between physical symptoms and the exposure levels defined in various ways, including days of work, degree of skin contamination, and levels of some urinary exposure biomarkers of VOCs, metabolites and metals, although no major abnormalities in urinary exposure biomarkers were observed. This study provides evidence of a relationship between crude oil exposure and acute human health effects and suggests the need for follow-up to evaluate the exposure status and long-term health effects of clean-up participants.
    Environmental health and toxicology. 01/2011; 26:e2011007.
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    ABSTRACT: Our objective was to examine and evaluate the psychological health of the residents of Taean during the cleanup of the Hebei Spirit (HS) oil spill and to review some factors associated with the results. A community survey of 71 men and women was conducted 8 weeks after the HS oil spill. Questionnaires used were the PWI (Psychological Well-being Index) scale for psychosocial distress, the CES-D (Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression) scale for depressive symptoms, and a questionnaire created to assess suicidal impulses. The overall prevalence of high-risk psychosocial distress among the study group was 64.2%. The percentages of respondents with scores on the CES-D Scale above 16 and above 21 were 77.6% and 62.7%, respectively. The percentage of respondents categorized as having suicidal impulses was 18.3%. When compared with unexposed groups in the general population taken from various sources, the residents of Taean were 6.5 times as likely to have high stress and 9.4-9.7 times as likely to be depressed. No significant difference in the rate of suicidal impulse was found between the residents of Taean and the general population. Factors associated with high stress, depression, and suicidal impulses were age, a change in income, educational level, number of days working on the cleanup, and positive responses to questions about "affected daily activity" and "hospital visit due to work on cleanup." The results suggest that the HS oil spill had a significant impact on the psychological health of residents of Taean, but the comparability of the unexposed groups is a limitation of the study.
    Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health 04/2009; 42(2):82-8.
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    ABSTRACT: We evaluated the health effects of exposure to BTEX (Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, m,p-Xylene, o-Xylene) in the Taean area after the Hebei Spirit oil spill. We used a questionnaire survey to look for health effects among 80 pregnant women 2 to 3 months following the Hebei Spirit oil spill. Their BTEX exposures were estimated using the CALPUFF method. We then used a multiple logistic regression analysis to evaluate the effects of BTEX exposure on the women's health effets. Pregnant women who lived near the accident site reported more symptoms of eye irritation and headache than those who lived farther from the site. There was a trend of decreasing symptoms with an increase in distance from the spill site. Pregnant women exposed to higher ambient cumulative levels of Xylene were significantly more likely to report symptoms of the skin (OR 8.01 95% CI=1.74-36.76) in the first day after the accident and significantly more likely to report abdominal pain (OR 3.86 95% CI=1.02-14.59 for Ethylbenzene, OR 6.70 95% CI=1.82-24.62 for Xylene) during the 1st through 4th days following the accident. This study suggests that exposure to BTEX from an oil spill is correlated with an increased risk of health effects among pregnant women. This implies the need to take proper measures, including the development of a national policy for environmental health emergencies and a plan for studying the short- and long-term chronic health effects associated with such spills.
    Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health 04/2009; 42(2):96-103.
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    ABSTRACT: To assess the protective effects of wearing protective devices among the residents and volunteers who participated in the cleanup of the Hebei Spirit oil spill. A total of 288 residents and 724 volunteers were surveyed about symptoms, whether they were wearing protective devices and potential confounding variables. The questionnaires were administered from the second to the sixth week following the accident. Spot urine samples were collected and analyzed for metabolites of 4 volatile organic compounds (VOCs), 2 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and 6 heavy metals. The association between the wearing of protective devices and various symptoms was assessed using a multiple logistic regression adjusted for confounding variables. A multiple generalized linear regression model adjusted for the covariates was used to test for a difference in least-square mean concentration of urinary biomarkers between residents who wore protective devices and those who did not. Thirty nine to 98% of the residents and 62-98% of volunteers wore protective devices. Levels of fatigue and fever were higher among residents not wearing masks than among those who did wear masks (odds ratio 4.5; 95% confidence interval 1.23-19.86). Urinary mercury levels were found to be significantly higher among residents not wearing work clothes or boots (p<0.05). Because the survey was not performed during the initial high-exposure period, no significant difference was found in metabolite levels between people who wore protective devices and those who did not, except for mercury, whose biological half-life is more than 6 weeks.
    Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health 03/2009; 42(2):89-95.
  • Epidemiology. 01/2009; 20.
  • Epidemiology. 01/2009; 20.
  • The Journal of The Korean Academy of Periodontology. 01/2009; 39.