Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: Journal of occupational and environmental hygiene


ABSTRACT Healthcare workers are exposed to potentially infectious airborne particles while providing routine care to coughing patients. However, much is not understood about the behavior of these aerosols and the risks they pose. We used a coughing patient simulator and a breathing worker simulator to investigate the exposure of healthcare workers to cough aerosol droplets, and to examine the efficacy of face shields in reducing this exposure. Our results showed that 0.9% of the initial burst of aerosol from a cough can be inhaled by a worker 46 cm (18 inches) from the patient. During testing of an influenza-laden cough aerosol with a volume median diameter (VMD) of 8.5 μm, wearing a face shield reduced the inhalational exposure of the worker by 96% in the period immediately after a cough. The face shield also reduced the surface contamination of a respirator by 97%. When a smaller cough aerosol was used (VMD = 3.4 μm), the face shield was less effective, blocking only 68% of the cough and 76% of the surface contamination. In the period from 1 to 30 minutes after a cough, during which the aerosol had dispersed throughout the room and larger particles had settled, the face shield reduced aerosol inhalation by only 23%. Increasing the distance between the patient and worker to 183 cm (72 inches) reduced the exposure to influenza that occurred immediately after a cough by 92%. Our results show that healthcare workers can inhale infectious airborne particles while treating a coughing patient. Face shields can substantially reduce the short-term exposure of healthcare workers to large infectious aerosol particles, but smaller particles can remain airborne longer and flow around the face shield more easily to be inhaled. Thus, face shields provide a useful adjunct to respiratory protection for workers caring for patients with respiratory infections. However, they cannot be used as a substitute for respiratory protection when it is needed.

Concepts: Health care provider, Patient, Respiratory physiology, Respiratory system, Inhalation, Aerosol, Face, Faces


The ability to disinfect and reuse disposable N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) may be needed during a pandemic of an infectious respiratory disease such as influenza. Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) is one possible method for respirator disinfection. However, UV radiation degrades polymers, which presents the possibility that UVGI exposure could degrade the ability of a disposable respirator to protect the worker. To study this, we exposed both sides of material coupons and respirator straps from four models of N95 FFRs to UVGI doses from 120 to 950 J/cm(2). We then tested the particle penetration, flow resistance and the bursting strengths of the individual respirator coupon layers, and the breaking strength of the respirator straps. We found that UVGI exposure led to a small increase in particle penetration (up to 1.25%) and had little effect on the flow resistance. UVGI exposure had a more pronounced effect on the strengths of the respirator materials. At the higher UVGI doses, the strength of the layers of respirator material was substantially reduced (in some cases, by >90%). The changes in the strengths of the respirator materials varied considerably among the different models of respirators. UVGI had less of an effect on the respirator straps; a dose of 2360 J/cm(2) reduced the breaking strength of the straps by 20% to 51%. Our results suggest that UVGI could be used to effectively disinfect disposable respirators for reuse, but the maximum number of disinfection cycles will be limited by the respirator model and the UVGI dose required to inactivate the pathogen.

Concepts: Ultraviolet, Hydrogen peroxide, Materials science, Disinfectant, Hygiene, Sunburn, Respirator, Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation


Solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the second most prevalent carcinogenic exposure in Canada and is similarly important in other countries with large Caucasian populations. The objective of this article was to estimate the economic burden associated with newly diagnosed non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSCs) attributable to occupational solar radiation exposure. Key cost categories considered were direct costs (healthcare costs, out-of-pocket costs (OOPCs), and informal caregiver costs); indirect costs (productivity/output costs and home production costs); and intangible costs (monetary value of the loss of health-related quality of life (HRQoL)). To generate the burden estimates, we used secondary data from multiple sources applied to computational methods developed from an extensive review of the literature. An estimated 2,846 (5.3%) of the 53,696 newly diagnosed cases of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and 1,710 (9.2%) of the 18,549 newly diagnosed cases of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) in 2011 in Canada were attributable to occupational solar radiation exposure. The combined total for direct and indirect costs of occupational NMSC cases is $28.9 million ($15.9 million for BCC and $13.0 million for SCC), and for intangible costs is $5.7 million ($0.6 million for BCC and $5.1 million for SCC). On a per-case basis, the total costs are $5,670 for BCC and $10,555 for SCC. The higher per-case cost for SCC is largely a result of a lower survival rate, and hence higher indirect and intangible costs. Our estimates can be used to raise awareness of occupational solar UV exposure as an important causal factor in NMSCs and can highlight the importance of occupational BCC and SCC among other occupational cancers.

Concepts: Cancer, Ultraviolet, Squamous cell carcinoma, Basal cell carcinoma, Skin cancer, Brachytherapy, Sunscreen, Mohs surgery


ABSTRACT Respiratory protection provided by a particulate respirator is a function of particle penetration through filter media and through faceseal leakage. Faceseal leakage largely contributes to the penetration of particles through respirator and compromises protection. When faceseal leaks arise, filter penetration is assumed to be negligible. The contribution of filter penetration and faceseal leakage to total inward leakage (TIL) of submicron size bioaerosols is not well studied. To address this issue, TIL values for two N95 filtering facepiece respirator (FFR) models and two surgical mask (SM) models sealed to a manikin were measured at 8 L and 40 L breathing minute volumes with different artificial leak sizes. TIL values for different size (20-800 nm, electrical mobility diameter) NaCl particles representing submicron size bioaerosols were measured using a scanning mobility particle sizer. Efficiency of filtering devices was assessed by measuring the penetration against NaCl aerosol similar to the method used for NIOSH particulate filter certification. Results showed that the most penetrating particle size (MPPS) was ∼45 nm for both N95 FFR models and one of the two SM models, and ∼350 nm for the other SM model at sealed condition with no leaks as well as with different leak sizes. TIL values increased with increasing leak sizes and breathing minute volumes. Relatively, higher efficiency N95 and SM models showed lower TIL values. Filter efficiency of FFRs and SMs influenced the TIL at different flow rates and leak sizes. Overall, the data indicate that good fitting higher efficiency FFRs may offer higher protection against submicron size bioaerosols.

Concepts: Sociology, Aerosol, Respirator, Filters, Leak, Masks, Bioaerosol, Surgical mask


Use of a stability ball alone and stability ball chair were evaluated in the Veterans Health Administration as possible alternatives to incorporate with regular office chair use. The evaluation of stability ball use was conducted under the auspices of a work site health promotion program as a cross-over trial with participants rotating through use of the stability ball, stability ball chair, and regular office chair on a monthly basis for a total duration of 3 months. Rotations on regular office chairs served as the control. Three medical facilities participated. A total of 193 employees completed a baseline questionnaire; 159 completed at least one post-rotation questionnaire. Self-reported measures included perceived posture when sitting, perceptions of overall balance, energy levels, job performance, safety, and pain. Use was associated with improvements in perceived posture (p < 0.0001) and energy levels (p = 0.007) for stability ball users compared with the office chair control, and improvements in perceived posture (p < 0.0001) and overall balance (p = 0.05) for stability ball chair users compared with the control. Use of stability balls at work decreases the likelihood of reporting pain from regular office chair use from approximately 45% to 21%. Alternatively, a high number of participants reported pain with use of the stability ball alone and stability ball chair, 42% and 45%, respectively. The perceived risks and benefits of stability ball use should be weighed when incorporating use. [Supplementary materials are available for this article. Go to the publisher's online edition of Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene for the following free supplementary resource: Post-Active Sitting Device Questionnaire].

Concepts: Perception, Sense, Rotation, Sitting, Chair, Office chair, Chairs, Balls


Ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) is frequently used to gauge the success of remediation in clandestine methamphetamine laboratory sites due to portability of the instrument. In most cases, remediation involves some form of surface cleaning, followed by assaying using IMS to detect residual contaminants. However, the effectiveness of this cleaning approach has not been systematically evaluated nor has the effect of residual cleaner on IMS response. In this study, various building materials were exposed to a solution of methamphetamine followed by a series of cleaning cycles with a commercially available detergent, Simple Green. We found that cleaning using Simple Green requires exhaustive efforts; therefore, other cleaning agents should be explored that might be able to achieve a non-detectable IMS signal with less effort.

Concepts: Mass spectrometry, Effect, Effectiveness, Chemistry, Efficacy, Clandestine chemistry, Ion mobility spectrometry, Ion mobility


ABSTRACT Orchestral musicians - an at-risk group for noise-induced hearing loss - have consistently reported great difficulty using hearing protection while performing or rehearsing, even when using earplugs specifically designed for musicians. A recent innovation in this field has been electronic earplugs that claim to deliver very high quality sound and only attenuate when sound levels become excessive. This study investigated these claims, aiming to determine whether professional orchestral musicians were able to use these devices and whether they were preferred to existing earplugs. Initially clinical and laboratory testing was carried out on the devices, indicating some spectral alteration of processed sound occurred, however claims of attenuation properties were validated. Following this, 26 orchestral musicians used the devices during rehearsals and performances for at least four weeks, providing feedback throughout this period. While musicians preferred the devices to previous earplugs, they identified issues including difficulty with orchestral balance, perception of dynamics and quality of sound provided by the devices. Results indicate these earplugs are a very positive step towards a usable hearing conservation tool for orchestral musicians to use in conjunction with other risk mitigation measures.

Concepts: Hearing impairment, Sense, Performance, Tinnitus, Attenuation, Hearing, Music, Rehearsal


The duration of integrated air sampling for a substance may exceed the time frame of a substance’s occupational exposure limit. Nonetheless, the compliance status of a limit may be inferred, under some circumstances, by the application of certain methods to the results of longer-duration samples. The purpose of this article is to define the inference methods and to illustrate their utility with actual and hypothetical examples. A review of articles and reports in U.S.-based Industrial Hygiene publications and databases revealed that the methods often were not but arguably should have been applied. Also revealed were inappropriate conclusions about the compliance status with exposure limits. Among the benefits of employing the inference methods is gaining information on exposures that might otherwise be overlooked. The article discusses the potential limitations of using the methods, and it highlights some of the challenges of using integrated air sampling for assessing compliance with shorter-term exposure limits.

Concepts: Reasoning, Occupational safety and health, Inference, Occupational exposure limit, Indicative limit value


Some evidence of exposure-response of metolachlor and pendimethalin for lung cancer and an association of metribuzin with risk of glioma have been reported. The primary objectives in this study were to evaluate exposure and occupational risk during mixing/loading of pesticides and during their application to tomatoes cultivated in open fields.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Cancer, Metastasis, Lung cancer, Cancer staging, Tobacco smoking


The purpose of this study was to describe changes in hearing, using the permanent threshold shift metric, among United States Air Force servicemembers, including active duty, Reserve and Air National Guard components, for demographics, job categories, and career fields. In the United States Air Force, only servicemembers who are occupationally exposed routinely to hazardous noise are monitored. Audiogram records and demographic variables were analyzed for servicemembers from 2005 to 2011 using data from the Department of Defense system that captures occupational hearing tests worldwide. Results suggest that occupational hearing loss was larger in males than females, in officers than enlisted populations, and in Reserve and Air National Guard than in active duty. Compared to similar civilian career fields, active duty has lower prevalence rates for occupational hearing loss overall, although Reserve and Air National Guard prevalence rates were more similar to the civilian reported rates. The proportion of personnel with permanent threshold shifts varied between 4.6 - 16.7% within active duty career fields, which includes 76% of the population for study timeframe. Permanent threshold shift was larger in small job categories, and in jobs that are not considered exposed to hazardous noise routinely which is comparative with results from civilian data analysis of occupational hearing loss. Further investigation into testing practices for Air Force specific groups, use of the system for non-occupational hearing testing, and challenges to follow-up compliance is warranted. Increased surveillance procedures for occupational hearing loss are needed to address concerns on the prevalence of servicemember hearing loss, the role of recreational and lifestyle factors to contribute the high reported hearing loss prevalence of veterans compared to non-veterans.

Concepts: United States, Demographics, Audiogram, Hearing, United States Army, United States Air Force, United States Department of Defense, National Guard of the United States