The latest medical research on Occupational & Environmental Medicine

The research magnet gathers the latest research from around the web, based on your specialty area. Below you will find a sample of some of the most recent articles from reputable medical journals about occupational & environmental medicine gathered by our medical AI research bot.

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The effect of pharmacological treatment and lifestyle modification in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: An umbrella review of meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials.

Obesity Reviews

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a liver disease that affects approximately 25% of the world's population, and various treatments have b...

Systematic Evidence Map for Over One Hundred and Fifty Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS).

Environmental Health Perspectives

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large class of synthetic (man-made) chemicals widely used in consumer products and industrial processes. Thousands of distinct PFAS exist in commerce. The 2019 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Action Plan outlines a multiprogram national research plan to address the challenge of PFAS. One component of this strategy involves the use of systematic evidence map (SEM) approaches to characterize the evidence base for hundreds of PFAS.

SEM methods were used to summarize available epidemiological and animal bioassay evidence for a set of ∼150 PFAS that were prioritized in 2019 by the U.S. EPA's Center for Computational Toxicology and Exposure (CCTE) for in vitro toxicity and toxicokinetic assay testing.

Systematic review methods were used to identify and screen literature using manual review and machine-learning software. The Populations, Exposures, Comparators, and Outcomes (PECO) criteria were kept broad to identify mammalian animal bioassay and epidemiological studies that could inform human hazard identification. A variety of supplemental content was also tracked, including information on in vitro model systems; exposure measurement-only studies in humans; and absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion (ADME). Animal bioassay and epidemiology studies meeting PECO criteria were summarized with respect to study design, and health system(s) were assessed. Because animal bioassay studies with ≥21-d exposure duration (or reproductive/developmental study design) were most useful to CCTE analyses, these studies underwent study evaluation and detailed data extraction. All data extraction is publicly available online as interactive visuals with downloadable metadata.

More than 40,000 studies were identified from scientific databases. Screening processes identified 44 animal and 148 epidemiology studies from the peer-reviewed literature and 95 animal and 50 epidemiology studies from gray literature that met PECO criteria. Epidemiological evidence (available for 15 PFAS) mostly assessed the reproductive, endocrine, developmental, metabolic, cardiovascular, and immune systems. Animal evidence (available for 40 PFAS) commonly assessed effects in the reproductive, developmental, urinary, immunological, and hepatic systems. Overall, 45 PFAS had evidence across animal and epidemiology data streams.

Many of the ∼150 PFAS were data poor. Epidemiological and animal evidence were lacking for most of the PFAS included in our search. By disseminating this information, we hope to facilitate additional assessment work by providing the initial scoping literature survey and identifying key research needs. Future research on data-poor PFAS will help support a more complete understanding of the potential health effects from PFAS exposures. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP10343.

Combined Sewer Overflows and Gastrointestinal Illness in Atlanta, 2002-2013: Evaluating the Impact of Infrastructure Improvements.

Environmental Health Perspectives

Combined sewer overflows (CSOs) discharge untreated sewage into surface and recreational water, often following heavy precipitation. Given projected increases in frequency and intensity of precipitation due to climate change, it is important to understand the health impacts of CSOs and mediating effects of sewerage systems.

In this study we estimate associations of CSO events and emergency department (ED) visits for gastrointestinal (GI) illness among City of Atlanta, Georgia, residents and explore how these associations vary with sewerage improvements.

We estimate associations using Poisson generalized linear models, controlling for time trends. We categorized CSOs by overflow volume and assessed effects of CSO events prior to ED visits with 1-, 2- and 3-wk lags. Similarly, we evaluated effects of weekly cumulative precipitation greater than the 90th percentile at the same lags. We also evaluated effect modification by ZIP Code Tabulation Area (ZCTA)-level poverty and infrastructure improvement period using interaction terms.

Occurrence of a large volume CSO in the previous week was associated with a 9% increase in daily ED visits for GI illness. We identified significant interaction by ZCTA-level poverty, with stronger CSO-GI illness associations in low than high poverty areas. Among areas with low poverty, we observed associations at 1-wk and longer lags, following both large and lower volume CSO events. We did not observe significant interaction by infrastructure improvement period for CSO- nor precipitation-GI illness associations; however, the number of CSO events decreased from 2.31 per week before improvements to 0.49 after improvements.

Our findings suggest that CSOs contribute to acute GI illness burden in Atlanta and that the magnitude of this risk may be higher among populations living in areas of low poverty. We did not find a protective effect of sewerage system improvements. Nonetheless, observed reductions in CSO frequency may lower the absolute burden of GI illness attributable to these events. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP10399.

Professional reasoning of occupational therapy driver rehabilitation interventions.

Australian Occupational Therapy Journal

Driver-trained occupational therapists are advanced practitioners who work with people to help maintain their independence and autonomy through driving. There is a lack of investigation of professional reasoning processes for why interventions are recommended by driver-trained occupational therapists. This research project sought to explore the reasoning of driver-trained occupational therapists when they plan, implement, and reflect on driver rehabilitation interventions.

In-depth semistructured interviews (n = 7) and one focus group (n = 5) were conducted with 12 experienced driver-trained occupational therapists, comprising a wide range of experience, client populations, and licensing jurisdictions. Data were analysed using a modified template analysis approach.

Seven higher order modes that reflect professional reasoning theory and hierarchical models were evident in the work of the driver-trained occupational therapists, with no new modes of reasoning emerging. Ethical reasoning regarding the balance of safety versus client independence was an overarching shared framework, with therapists mostly using interactive and conditional reasoning in practice. Twenty-three second-level themes were identified that exemplify how the reasoning modes operate in practice. Therapists described assessment activity even when solely asked about intervention, indicating the importance of assessment to intervention design. The full hierarchy of reasoning was evident during the rehabilitation phase.

These findings elucidate the application of professional reasoning in advanced occupational therapy practices and could support driver-trained occupational therapists in making driving rehabilitation recommendations if used in reflective practices.

Effects of workplace measures against COVID-19 on psychological distress of full-time employees: A 12-month prospective study in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment

This study aimed to investigate the prospective effects of corporate and organizational workplace measures against COVID-19 on reducing employees` psychological distress during a 12-month follow-up in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Data were retrieved from an online longitudinal panel survey of full-time employees in Japan, with the 1st survey in March 2020, and the 2nd to 6th surveys in May, August, November 2020, February and March 2021, respectively. Seven area-specific workplace measures were assessed using a self-report 23-item scale at the 2nd follow-up. Psychological distress was measured using an 18-item scale of the Brief Job Stress Questionnaire at each survey. Linear regressions and mixed model analysis were conducted of psychological distress at follow-ups on scores of the area-specific workplace measures, adjusting for psychological distress and other covariates at the 1st survey.

A total of 941 employees responded at baseline; most of them (86.9-90.9%) participated in the follow-up surveys. Linear regression analysis indicated that workplace measures of facilitating employees' preventive measures (ie, hygiene behaviors) statistically significantly and negatively correlated with psychological distress at the 5th survey [b=-0.518, standard error (SE) 0.259, P=0.046]. A statistically significant and negative interaction between the scores and time of follow-up was observed in the mixed model analysis (b=-0.096, SE 0.047, P=0.041). No such correlation or interaction was found for any of other subcategorical workplace measures.

The study provides prospective evidence for a protective effect of workplace measures to facilitate employee's hygiene behaviors on reducing psychological distress of full-time employees in the COVID-19 pandemic. The association seems stronger at a later follow-up.

Low-quality employment trajectories and the risk of common mental health disorders among individuals with Swedish and foreign background - a register-based cohort study.

Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment

This study aimed to examine the effects of low-quality employment trajectories on severe common mental disorders (CMD) according to Swedish and foreign background.

In this longitudinal study based on Swedish population registries (N=2 703 687), low- and high-quality employment trajectories were the main exposures observed across five years (2005-2009), with severe CMD as outcome variable (2010-2017). Adjusted hazard ratios (HR) were calculated by means of Cox regression models and stratified according to Swedish and foreign background [first-generation (i) EU migrants, (ii) non-EU migrants, (iii) second-generation migrants, (iv) Swedish-born of Swedish background] and sex. The reference group was Swedish-born of Swedish background in a constant high-quality employment trajectory.

Second-generation migrants had an increased risk of CMD compared to Swedish-born of Swedish background when following low-quality employment trajectories [eg, male in constant low-quality HR 1.54, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.41-1.68]. Female migrant workers, especially first-generation from non-EU countries in low-quality employment trajectories (eg, constant low-quality HR 1.66, 95% CI 1.46-1.88), had a higher risk of CMD compared to female Swedish-born of Swedish background. The risk for CMD according to employment trajectories showed little differences between first- and second-generation migrants.

Low-quality employment trajectories appear to be determinants of risk for CMD in association with Swedish or foreign background of origin and sex. Our study shows a higher risk for severe CMD in second-generation and non-EU migrant compared to Swedish-born of Swedish background in constant low-quality employment. Further qualitative research is recommended to understand the mechanism behind the differential mental health impact of low-quality employment trajectories according to foreign background.

Changes in occupational well-being during COVID-19: the impact of age, gender, education, living alone, and telework in a Finnish four-wave population sample.

Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment

This study investigated how occupational well-being evolved across different phases, before and during the COVID-19 outbreak in the Finnish population. Whereas studies have suggested that certain demographic groups (eg, young, female) are more at risk during COVID-19, less is known whether the effects of such demographic factors may vary (i) across different phases of the unfolding viral outbreak and (ii) on different dimensions of occupational well-being. As they are predictors of changes in burnout, job boredom, and work engagement, we examined age, gender, education, living alone, and teleworking. This is the first study to provide such detailed knowledge regarding the changes in various occupational well-being dimensions before and during the COVID-19 outbreak.

We collected randomized population panel data at the end of 2019 and conducted three follow-up surveys with 6-month intervals (N=532). The data were analyzed with latent change score models.

Whereas during spring 2020, occupational well-being slightly improved, in autumn 2020 well-being decreased back to pre-COVID-19 levels. There was an indication of slight increases in job boredom between before COVID-19 and summer 2021. Well-being deteriorated more for the young and those who lived alone. There was also some indication of females, those with lower education, and non-teleworkers experiencing less favorable changes in occupational well-being. Teleworking appeared to have more beneficial effects on well-being for those with lower education.

The study suggests that only relatively minor changes in well-being took place among the employed population. A particular focus in workplaces should be targeted at younger employees.

Flaws and all: How mindfulness reduces error hiding by enhancing authentic functioning.

Journal of Occupational Health Psychology

Hiding errors can undermine safety by amplifying the risks of undetected errors. This article extends research on occupational safety by investigat...

Household Air Pollution Concentrations after Liquefied Petroleum Gas Interventions in Rural Peru: Findings from a One-Year Randomized Controlled Trial Followed by a One-Year Pragmatic Crossover Trial.

Environmental Health Perspectives

Household air pollution (HAP) from biomass fuel combustion remains a leading environmental risk factor for morbidity worldwide.

Measure the effect of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) interventions on HAP exposures in Puno, Peru.

We conducted a 1-y randomized controlled trial followed by a 1-y pragmatic crossover trial in 180 women age 25-64 y. During the first year, intervention participants received a free LPG stove, continuous fuel delivery, and regular behavioral messaging, whereas controls continued their biomass cooking practices. During the second year, control participants received a free LPG stove, regular behavioral messaging, and vouchers to obtain LPG tanks from a nearby distributor, whereas fuel distribution stopped for intervention participants. We collected 48-h kitchen area concentrations and personal exposures to fine particulate matter (PM) with aerodynamic diameter ≤2.5μm (PM2.5), black carbon (BC), and carbon monoxide (CO) at baseline and 3-, 6-, 12-, 18-, and 24-months post randomization.

Baseline mean [±standard deviation (SD)] PM2.5 (kitchen area concentrations 1,220±1,010 vs. 1,190±880 μg/m3; personal exposure 126±214 vs. 104±100 μg/m3), CO (kitchen 53±49 vs. 50±41 ppm; personal 7±8 vs. 7±8 ppm), and BC (kitchen 180±120 vs. 210±150 μg/m3; personal 19±16 vs. 21±22 μg/m3) were similar between control and intervention participants. Intervention participants had consistently lower mean (±SD) concentrations at the 12-month visit for kitchen (41±59 μg/m3, 3±6 μg/m3, and 8±13 ppm) and personal exposures (26±34 μg/m3, 2±3 μg/m3, and 3±4 ppm) to PM2.5, BC, and CO when compared to controls during the first year. In the second year, we observed comparable HAP reductions among controls after the voucher-based intervention for LPG fuel was implemented (24-month visit PM2.5, BC, and CO kitchen mean concentrations of 34±74 μg/m3, 3±5 μg/m3, and 6±6 ppm and personal exposures of 17±15 μg/m3, 2±2 μg/m3, and 3±4 ppm, respectively), and average reductions were present among intervention participants even after free fuel distribution stopped (24-month visit PM2.5, BC, and CO kitchen mean concentrations of 561±1,251 μg/m3, 82±124 μg/m3, and 23±28 ppm and personal exposures of 35±38 μg/m3, 6±6 μg/m3, and 4±5 ppm, respectively).

Both home delivery and voucher-based provision of free LPG over a 1-y period, in combination with provision of a free LPG stove and longitudinal behavioral messaging, reduced HAP to levels below 24-h World Health Organization air quality guidelines. Moreover, the effects of the intervention on HAP persisted for a year after fuel delivery stopped. Such strategies could be applied in LPG programs to reduce HAP and potentially improve health. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP10054.

Use of Sewage Surveillance for COVID-19: A Large-Scale Evidence-Based Program in Hong Kong.

Environmental Health Perspectives

Sewage surveillance, by detecting SARS-CoV-2 virus circulation at the community level, has the potential to supplement individual surveillance for COVID-19. However, to date, there have been no reports about the large-scale implementation and validation of sewage surveillance for public health action.

Here, we developed a standardized approach for SARS-CoV-2 detection in sewage and applied it prospectively to supplement public health interventions.

We analyzed 1,169 sewage samples collected at 492 sites from December 2020 to March 2021. Forty-seven of 492 sites tested positive, 44 (94%) of them had traceable sources of viral signals in the corresponding sewershed, either from previously unsuspected but subsequently confirmed patients or recently convalescent patients or from both patient groups.

Sewage surveillance had a sensitivity of 54%, a specificity of 95%, a positive predictive value of 53%, and a negative predictive value of 95% for identifying a previously unsuspected patient within a sewershed. Sewage surveillance in Hong Kong provided a basis for the statutory public health action to detect silent COVID-19 transmission.

Considering the epidemiological data together with the sewage testing results, compulsory testing was conducted for individual residents at 27 positive sewage sites and uncovered total of 62 previously unsuspected patients, demonstrating the value of sewage surveillance in uncovering previously unsuspected patients in the community. Our study suggests that sewage surveillance could be a powerful management tool for the control of COVID-19. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP9966.

Residential Exposure to Urban Trees and Medication Sales for Mood Disorders and Cardiovascular Disease in Brussels, Belgium: An Ecological Study.

Environmental Health Perspectives

The available evidence for positive associations between urban trees and human health is mixed, partly because the assessment of exposure to trees is often imprecise because of, for instance, exclusion of trees in private areas and the lack of three-dimensional (3D) exposure indicators (e.g., crown volume).

We aimed to quantify all trees and relevant 3D structural traits in Brussels (Belgium) and to investigate associations between the number of trees, tree traits, and sales of medication commonly prescribed for mood disorders and cardiovascular disease.

We developed a workflow to automatically isolate all individual trees from airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data collected in 2012. Trait data were subsequently extracted for 309,757 trees in 604 census tracts. We used the average annual age-standardized rate of medication sales in Brussels for the period 2006 to 2014, calculated from reimbursement information on medication prescribed to adults (19-64 years of age). The medication sales data were provided by sex at the census tract level. Generalized log-linear models were used to investigate associations between the number of trees, the crown volume, tree structural variation, and medication sales. Models were run separately for mood disorder and cardiovascular medication and for men and women. All models were adjusted for indicators of area-level socioeconomic status.

Single-factor models showed that higher stem densities and higher crown volumes are both associated with lower medication sales, but opposing associations emerged in multifactor models. Higher crown volume [an increase by one interquartile range (IQR) of 1.4×104 m³/ha] was associated with 34% lower mood disorder medication sales [women, β=-0.341 (95% CI: -0.379, -0.303); men, β=-0.340 (95% CI: -0.378, -0.303)] and with 21-25% lower cardiovascular medication sales [women, β=-0.214 (95% CI: -0.246, -0.182); men, β=-0.252 (95% CI: -0.285, -0.219)]. Conversely, a higher stem density (an increase by one IQR of 21.8 trees/ha) was associated with 28-32% higher mood disorder medication sales [women, β=0.322 (95% CI: 0.284, 0.361); men, β=0.281 (95% CI: 0.243, 0.319)] and with 20-24% higher cardiovascular medication sales [women, β=0.202 (95% CI: 0.169, 0.236); men, β=0.240 (95% CI: 0.206, 0.273)].

We found a trade-off between the number of trees and the crown volumes of those trees for human health benefits in an urban environment. Our results demonstrate that conserving large trees in urban environments may not only support conservation of biodiversity but also human health. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP9924.

Evaluation of a Gene-Environment Interaction of PON1 and Low-Level Nerve Agent Exposure with Gulf War Illness: A Prevalence Case-Control Study Drawn from the U.S. Military Health Survey's National Population Sample.

Environmental Health Perspectives

Consensus on the etiology of 1991 Gulf War illness (GWI) has been limited by lack of objective individual-level environmental exposure information and assumed recall bias.

We investigated a prestated hypothesis of the association of GWI with a gene-environment (GxE) interaction of the paraoxonase-1 (PON1) Q192R polymorphism and low-level nerve agent exposure.

A prevalence sample of 508 GWI cases and 508 nonpaired controls was drawn from the 8,020 participants in the U.S. Military Health Survey, a representative sample survey of military veterans who served during the Gulf War. The PON1 Q192R genotype was measured by real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), and the serum Q and R isoenzyme activity levels were measured with PON1-specific substrates. Low-level nerve agent exposure was estimated by survey questions on having heard nerve agent alarms during deployment.

The GxE interaction of the Q192R genotype and hearing alarms was strongly associated with GWI on both the multiplicative [prevalence odds ratio (POR) of the interaction=3.41; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.20, 9.72] and additive (synergy index=4.71; 95% CI: 1.82, 12.19) scales, adjusted for measured confounders. The Q192R genotype and the alarms variable were independent (adjusted POR in the controls=1.18; 95% CI: 0.81, 1.73; p=0.35), and the associations of GWI with the number of R alleles and quartiles of Q isoenzyme were monotonic. The adjusted relative excess risk due to interaction (aRERI) was 7.69 (95% CI: 2.71, 19.13). Substituting Q isoenzyme activity for the genotype in the analyses corroborated the findings. Sensitivity analyses suggested that recall bias had forced the estimate of the GxE interaction toward the null and that unmeasured confounding is unlikely to account for the findings. We found a GxE interaction involving the Q-correlated PON1 diazoxonase activity and a weak possible GxE involving the Khamisiyah plume model, but none involving the PON1 R isoenzyme activity, arylesterase activity, paraoxonase activity, butyrylcholinesterase genotypes or enzyme activity, or pyridostigmine.

Given gene-environment independence and monotonicity, the unconfounded aRERI>0 supports a mechanistic interaction. Together with the direct evidence of exposure to fallout from bombing of chemical weapon storage facilities and the extensive toxicologic evidence of biochemical protection from organophosphates by the Q isoenzyme, the findings provide strong evidence for an etiologic role of low-level nerve agent in GWI. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP9009.