Monday, October 31, 2005

Hurricane Recovery Worker Hazards

There's been discussion of monitoring of workers employed for restoration in the hurricane area, and particularly water intruded buildings in NOLA. This is a great opportunity, given public funding of much of this work and public interest in all of it.

The most general occupational illness concerns would be inhalation hazards on small construction, demolition or remodeling sites, present whether in storm damaged areas or not. Most important measurements would be particulate not otherwise classified. Inhalable particulate [IOM sampler or open faced cassette] samples should be collected as well as conventional samples or real time aerosol monitoring. There are no evaluation criteria for inhalable [particles larger than 10 microns]. Evaluation criteria for PM10 [OSHA total] and PM 2.5 [OSHA respirable] should be EPA NAAQS particulate standards.

What about biomass hazards. There's a decent literature on agricultural exposures. Whether it's manure on a pig farm, or slude in a NOLA house, the same principles apply. The mold literature applies, sewage treatment workers, and other waste workers.

The paper abstracted below suggests some environmental measurements which could be made, and some clinical measures of effect which might be observed.

The introductory section of the paper notes:

Adverse health effects in workers involved in the
household waste recycling industry were first described
at a refuse plant in Denmark performing manual
sorting of industrial and household waste.1 Initial symptoms
of nose and eye irritation progressed to cases of organic dust
toxic syndrome (ODTS), bronchial asthma, and chronic bronchitis
in nine of 15 workers during the first year of work, presumably
because of bioaerosol exposure from the waste. Some
case reports also exist of allergic reactions such as hypersensitive
pneumonitis after excessively high fungal spore exposure
from wood chips and residential composting.2 3 The underlying
mechanisms causing the reported health effects are still
unclear, but there is increasing evidence that the respiratory
symptoms caused by bioaerosol exposure are mainly of an
non-allergic inflammatory nature.

BrooklynDodger is going to have to look up beta (1-3) glucans. Right now the Dodger guesses these are something like endotoxin(s).

Occup Environ Med. 2003 Jun;60(6):444-50. Related Articles, Links

Upper airway inflammation in waste handlers exposed to bioaerosols.

Heldal KK, Halstensen AS, Thorn J, Djupesland P, Wouters I, Eduard W, Halstensen TS.
National Institute of Occupational Health, Oslo, Norway.

AIMS: To examine work associated upper airway inflammation in 31 waste handlers, and to correlate these findings with personally monitored exposure to different bioaerosol components. METHODS: Cell differentials, interleukin 8 (IL-8), myeloperoxidase (MPO), and eosinophilic cationic protein (ECP) were examined in NAL (nasal lavage), and swelling of the nasal mucosa was determined by acoustic rhinometry before work start on Monday and the following Thursday. Bioaerosol exposure was determined by personal full shift exposure measurements on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and analysed for total bacteria, fungal spores, endotoxin, and beta(1-->3)-glucans. RESULTS: The increased percentage of neutrophils from Monday (28%) to Thursday (46%) correlated with increases in ECP (r(S) = 0.71, p < p =" 0.07).">3)-glucans (range 3-217 ng/m(3)), respectively (r(S) = 0.47-0.54, p <>3)-glucan exposure (r(S) = 0.58-0.59, p <>3)-glucans during waste handling induced upper airway inflammation dominated by neutrophil infiltration and swelling of the nasal mucosa.

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