The latest medical research on Occupational & Environmental Medicine

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Correction of bias in self-reported sitting time among office workers - a study based on compositional data analysis.

Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment

Objective Emerging evidence suggests that excessive sitting has negative health effects. However, this evidence largely relies on research using se...

School-level factors associated with obesity: A systematic review of longitudinal studies.

Obesity Reviews

Although school has been an important intervention venue for obesity prevention, the role of school-level factors in obesity development or prevent...

Chronic conditions as predictors of later life disability employment exit: a gendered analysis.

Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Increasing life expectancy has led governments to implement reforms aimed at delaying retirement. Chronic conditions are an important barrier to this given their association with pain, functional limitations, depression and ultimately lower life expectancy. Chronic diseases are gendered in terms of these characteristics, as well as their population prevalence. I examined the extent to which gender moderates the extent to which different chronic conditions lead to disability employment exit, the proportion of exits they account for and key mediators in this process.

Data from waves 1 to 8 of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing were analysed. I followed employees aged 50-70 years until they experienced disability employment exit, or were censored. I analysed the influence of chronic conditions, functional limitations, pain, depressive symptoms and subjective life expectancy using discrete time survival analysis. All analyses were carried out separately by gender if a significant interaction was found. The mediation analysis was carried out using the Karlson/Holm/Breen method.

No significant gender interactions were found for the risk of chronic conditions on disability employment exit. Lung disease (OR 4.1; 95% CI 2.8 to 5.9), cancer (OR 2.9; 95% CI 2.1 to 4.0) and arthritis (OR 2.6; 95% CI 2.1 to 3.3) were the strongest determinants. Depressive symptoms (OR 3.2; 95% CI 2.5 to 4.1) were also a strong determinant, and along with arthritis, explained a greater proportion of women than men's exits given differences in prevalence. Pain and various types of functional limitations were important mediators of exit as well as determinants in their own right.

The results suggest that gender differences in the prevalence of different chronic conditions result in differences in the proportion of disability employment exits they account for in the population. Targeted and tailored interventions, for example, in the workplace might take this into account.

Evaluate driver response to active warning system in level-2 automated vehicles.

Accident Analysis and Prevention

As vehicles with automated functions become more prevalent on U.S. roadways, maintaining driver attention while the vehicle is engaged in automatio...

Novel clinical scores for occupational asthma due to exposure to high-molecular-weight agents.

Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Specific inhalation challenge (SIC) as the reference diagnostic test for occupational asthma (OA) is not widely available worldwide. We aimed to develop non-SIC-based models for OA.

Of 427 workers who were exposed to high-molecular-weight agents and referred to OA clinic at Montréal Sacré-Cœur Hospital between 1983 and 2016, we analysed 160 workers who completed non-specific bronchial hyper-responsiveness (NSBHR) tests and still worked 1 month before SIC. OA was defined as positive SIC. Logistic regression models were developed. The accuracy of the models was quantified using calibration and discrimination measures. Their internal validity was evaluated with bootstrapping procedures. The final models were translated into clinical scores and stratified into probability groups.

The final model, which included age ≤40 years, rhinoconjunctivitis, inhaled corticosteroid use, agent type, NSBHR, and work-specific sensitisation had a reasonable internal validity. The area under the receiver operating characteristics curve (AUC) was 0.91 (95% CI 0.86 to 0.95), statistically significantly higher than the combination of positive NSBHR and work-specific sensitisation (AUC=0.84). The top 70% of the clinical scores (ie, the high probability group) showed a significantly higher sensitivity (96.4%vs86.9%) and negative predictive value (93.6%vs84.1%) than the combination of positive NSBHR and work-specific sensitisation (p value <0.001).

We developed novel scores for OA induced by high-molecular-weight agents with excellent discrimination. It could be helpful for secondary-care physicians who have access to pulmonary function test and allergy testing in identifying subjects at a high risk of having OA and in deciding on appropriate referral to a tertiary centre.

Influence of the Urban Exposome on Birth Weight.

Environmental Health Perspectives

The exposome is defined as the totality of environmental exposures from conception onwards. It calls for providing a holistic view of environmental exposures and their effects on human health by evaluating multiple environmental exposures simultaneously during critical periods of life.

We evaluated the association of the urban exposome with birth weight.

We estimated exposure to the urban exposome, including the built environment, air pollution, road traffic noise, meteorology, natural space, and road traffic (corresponding to 24 environmental indicators and 60 exposures) for nearly 32,000 pregnant women from six European birth cohorts. To evaluate associations with either continuous birth weight or term low birth weight (TLBW) risk, we primarily relied on the Deletion-Substitution-Addition (DSA) algorithm, which is an extension of the stepwise variable selection method. Second, we used an exposure-by-exposure exposome-wide association studies (ExWAS) method accounting for multiple hypotheses testing to report associations not adjusted for coexposures.

The most consistent statistically significant associations were observed between increasing green space exposure estimated as Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and increased birth weight and decreased TLBW risk. Furthermore, we observed statistically significant associations among presence of public bus line, land use Shannon's Evenness Index, and traffic density and birth weight in our DSA analysis.

This investigation is the first large urban exposome study of birth weight that tests many environmental urban exposures. It confirmed previously reported associations for NDVI and generated new hypotheses for a number of built-environment exposures. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP3971.

Environmental Styrene Exposure and Sensory and Motor Function in Gulf Coast Residents.

Environmental Health Perspectives

Although styrene is an established neurotoxicant at occupational exposure levels, its neurotoxicity has not been characterized in relation to general population exposures. Further, occupational research to date has focused on central nervous system impairment.

We assessed styrene-associated differences in sensory and motor function among Gulf coast residents.

We used 2011 National Air Toxics Assessment estimates of ambient styrene to determine exposure levels for 2,956 nondiabetic Gulf state residents enrolled in the Gulf Long-term Follow-up Study, and additionally measured blood styrene concentration in a subset of participants 1 to 2 y after enrollment ([Formula: see text]). Participants completed an enrollment telephone interview and a comprehensive test battery to assess sensory and motor function during a clinical follow-up exam 2 to 4 y later. Detailed covariate information was ascertained at enrollment via telephone interview. We used multivariate linear regression to estimate continuous differences in sensory and motor function, and log-binomial regression to estimate prevalence ratios for dichotomous outcomes. We estimated associations of both ambient and blood styrene exposures with sensory and motor function, independently for five unique tests.

Those participants in the highest 25% vs. lowest 75% of ambient exposure and those in the highest 10% vs. lowest 90% of blood styrene had slightly diminished visual contrast sensitivity. Mean vibrotactile thresholds were lower among those in the highest vs. lowest quartile of ambient styrene and the highest 10% vs. lowest 90% of blood styrene ([Formula: see text] log microns; 95% CI: [Formula: see text], [Formula: see text] and [Formula: see text] log microns; 95% CI: [Formula: see text], [Formula: see text], respectively). The highest vs. lowest quartile of ambient styrene was associated with significantly poorer postural stability, and (unexpectedly) with significantly greater grip strength.

We observed associations between higher styrene exposure and poorer visual, sensory, and vestibular function, though we did not detect associations with reduced voluntary motor system performance. Associations were more consistent for ambient exposures, but we also found notable associations with measured blood styrene. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP3954.

Heated tobacco products use in Chinese adults in Hong Kong: a population-based cross-sectional study.

Tobacco Control

We investigated heated tobacco products (HTPs) use and associated factors in Chinese adults in Hong Kong where HTPs are not formally marketed yet, and cigarette smoking prevalence was the lowest in the developed world.

A population-based landline telephone survey in 2017 interviewed 5131 (45.2% male; 26.7% aged ≥60) adults to collect information on awareness, intention to use, ever use of HTPs, cigarette smoking status and sociodemographic characteristics. Descriptive statistics were weighted by the age, sex and smoking status of the Hong Kong adult population. Sociodemographics were mutually adjusted in logistic regression to yield adjusted ORs (AORs) for awareness of HTPs, controlling for smoking status.

Overall, 11.3% (95% CI 10.0% to 12.7%) were aware of HTPs and 1.0 % (0.8%-1.2%) had ever used it. Awareness was associated with aged 40-49 years (AOR 1.37, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.87) or 30-39 years (2.03, 1.41-2.91) (vs ≥60 years), born in Hong Kong (1.37, 1.11-1.68) and higher monthly household income (p for trend 0.001). Ever HTP users had higher educational attainment and monthly household income, and more were aged 30-39 and economically active (all p<0.003). In never HTP users, intention to use HTPs (7.3%, 4.9%-10.8%) were more prevalent in respondents with similar characteristics (all p<0.008). More current (vs never) smokers were aware of HTPs, intent to use HTPs and had ever used HTPs (all p<0.001).

Higher socioeconomic status was associated with HTP use and intention to use. Public health education on HTPs is needed especially for this high-risk group.

Impacts of carbohydrate-restricted diets on micronutrient intakes and status: A systematic review.

Obesity Reviews

A systematic review of published evidence on micronutrient intake/status with carbohydrate-restricted diets (CRD) was conducted in Web of Science, ...

Associations between High Temperature, Heavy Rainfall, and Diarrhea among Young Children in Rural Tamil Nadu, India: A Prospective Cohort Study.

Environmental Health Perspectives

The effects of weather on diarrhea could influence the health impacts of climate change. Children have the highest diarrhea incidence, especially in India, where many lack safe water and sanitation.

In a prospective cohort of 1,284 children under 5 y of age from 900 households across 25 villages in rural Tamil Nadu, India, we examined whether high temperature and heavy rainfall was associated with increased all-cause diarrhea and water contamination.

Seven-day prevalence of diarrhea was assessed monthly for up to 12 visits from January 2008 to April 2009, and hydrogen sulfide ([Formula: see text]) presence in drinking water, a fecal contamination indicator, was tested in a subset of households. We estimated associations between temperature and rainfall exposures and diarrhea and [Formula: see text] using binomial regressions, adjusting for potential confounders, random effects for village, and autoregressive-1 error terms for study week.

There were 259 cases of diarrhea. The prevalence of diarrhea during the 7 d before visits was 2.95 times higher (95% CI: 1.99, 4.39) when mean temperature in the week before the 7-d recall was in the hottest versus the coolest quartile of weekly mean temperature during 1 December 2007 to 15 April 2009. Diarrhea prevalence was 1.50 times higher when the 3 weeks before the diarrhea recall period included [Formula: see text] (vs. 0 d) with rainfall of [Formula: see text] (95% CI: 1.12, 2.02), and 2.60 times higher (95% CI: 1.55, 4.36) for heavy rain weeks following a 60-d dry period. The [Formula: see text] prevalence in household water was not associated with heavy rain prior to sample collection.

The results suggest that, in rural Tamil Nadu, heavy rainfall may wash pathogens that accumulate during dry weather into child contact. Higher temperatures were positively associated with diarrhea 1-3 weeks later. Our findings suggest that diarrhea morbidity could worsen under climate change without interventions to reduce enteric pathogen transmission through multiple pathways. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP3711.

Climate Change, Human Health, and Social Stability: Addressing Interlinkages.

Environmental Health Perspectives

Abundant historical evidence demonstrates how environmental changes can affect social stability and, in turn, human health. A rapidly growing body of literature, largely from political science and economics, is examining the potential for and consequences associated with social instability related to current climate change. However, comparatively little of this research incorporates the effects on human health or the role of health systems in influencing the magnitude and types of instability that could occur.

The objective of this commentary is to articulate a conceptual framework incorporating health outcomes and health systems into theorized and observed linkages between climate change and social instability, illustrating in particular the health effects of natural resource shortages, infectious disease outbreaks, and migration.

Although increasing evidence exists that climate change, health, and social instability are related, key questions remain about the pathways linking these factors, as well as the magnitude, causality, and directionality of relationships across spatial and temporal scales. Models seeking to explain and predict climate-related social unrest should incorporate the many linkages between climate change, human health, and social instability. Members of the environmental health research community should work closely with those in the political science and economics communities to help deepen understandings of climate-related stressors and shocks that affect instability and worsen health outcomes. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP4534.

Environmental Health Indicators for China: Data Resources for Chinese Environmental Public Health Tracking.

Environmental Health Perspectives

Many developed countries use environmental public health tracking to gain a better understanding of the link between environmental hazards and publ...