Category Archives: Health & Safety

Respiratory Symptoms in Hospital Cleaning Staff Exposed to a Product Containing Hydrogen Peroxide, Peracetic Acid, and Acetic Acid

Source: Brie Hawley, Megan Casey, Mohammed Abbas Virji, Kristin J Cummings, Alyson Johnson, Jean Cox-Ganser, Annals of Work Exposures and Health, Early View, Published: 25 October 2017
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From the abstract:
Cleaning and disinfecting products consisting of a mixture of hydrogen peroxide (HP), peracetic acid (PAA), and acetic acid (AA) are widely used as sporicidal agents in health care, childcare, agricultural, food service, and food production industries. HP and PAA are strong oxidants and their mixture is a recognized asthmagen. However, few exposure assessment studies to date have measured HP, PAA, and AA in a health care setting. In 2015, we performed a health and exposure assessment at a hospital where a new sporicidal product, consisting of HP, PAA, and AA was introduced 16 months prior. We collected 49 full-shift time-weighted average (TWA) air samples and analyzed samples for HP, AA, and PAA content. Study participants were observed while they performed cleaning duties, and duration and frequency of cleaning product use was recorded. Acute upper airway, eye, and lower airway symptoms were recorded in a post-shift survey (n = 50). A subset of 35 cleaning staff also completed an extended questionnaire that assessed symptoms reported by workers as regularly occurring or as having occurred in the previous 12 months. Air samples for HP (range: 5.5 to 511.4 ppb) and AA (range: 6.7 to 530.3 ppb) were all below established US occupational exposure limits (OEL). To date, no full-shift TWA OEL for PAA has been established in the United States, however an OEL of 0.2 ppm has been suggested by several research groups. Air samples for PAA ranged from 1.1 to 48.0 ppb and were well below the suggested OEL of 0.2 ppm. Hospital cleaning staff using a sporicidal product containing HP, PAA, and AA reported work-shift eye (44%), upper airway (58%), and lower airway (34%) symptoms. Acute nasal and eye irritation were significantly positively associated with increased exposure to the mixture of the two oxidants: HP and PAA, as well as the total mixture (TM)of HP, PAA, and AA. Shortness of breath when hurrying on level ground or walking up a slight hill was significantly associated with increased exposure to the oxidant mixture (P = 0.017), as well as the TM (P = 0.026). Our results suggest that exposure to a product containing HP, PAA, and AA contributed to eye and respiratory symptoms reported by hospital cleaning staff at low levels of measured exposure.

Exposure to Cooking Fumes and Acute Reversible Decrement in Lung Functional Capacity

Source: Masoud Neghab, Mahdieh Delikhoon, Abbas Norouzian Baghani, Jafar Hassanzadeh, International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Vol 8 No 4, October 2017

From the abstract:
Background: Being exposed to cooking fumes, kitchen workers are occupationally at risk of multiple respiratory hazards. No conclusive evidence exists as to whether occupational exposure to these fumes is associated with acute and chronic pulmonary effects and symptoms of respiratory diseases.
Objective: To quantify the exposure levels and evaluate possible chronic and acute pulmonary effects associated with exposure to cooking fumes.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study, 60 kitchen workers exposed to cooking fumes and 60 unexposed employees were investigated. The prevalence of respiratory symptoms among these groups was determined through completion of a standard questionnaire. Pulmonary function parameters were also measured before and after participants’ work shift. Moreover, air samples were collected and analyzed to quantify their aldehyde, particle, and volatile organic contents.

Results: The mean airborne concentrations of formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and acrolein was 0.45 (SD 0.41), 0.13 (0.1), and 1.56 (0.41) mg/m3, respectively. The mean atmospheric concentrations of PM1, PM2.5, PM7, PM10, and total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs) was 3.31 (2.6), 12.21 (5.9), 44.16 (16.6), 57 (21.55) μg/m3, and 1.31 (1.11) mg/m3, respectively. All respiratory symptoms were significantly (p<0.05) more prevalent in exposed group. No significant difference was noted between the pre-shift mean of spirometry parameters of exposed and unexposed group. However, exposed workers showed cross-shift decrease in most spirometry parameters, significantly lower than the pre-shift values and those of the comparison group. Conclusion: Exposure to cooking fumes is associated with a significant increase in the prevalence of respiratory symptoms as well as acute reversible decrease in lung functional capacity.

The Short-Lived Benefits Of Abusive Supervisory Behavior For Actors: An Investigation Of Recovery And Work Engagement

Source: Xin Qin, Mingpeng Huang, Russell Johnson, Qiongjing Hu and Dong Ju, Academy of Management Journal, Published online before print September 11, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Although empirical evidence has accumulated showing that abusive supervision has devastating effects on subordinates’ work attitudes and outcomes, knowledge about how such behavior impacts supervisors who exhibit it is limited. Drawing upon conservation of resources theory, we develop and test a model that specifies how and when engaging in abusive supervisory behavior has immediate benefits for supervisors. Via two experiments and a multi-wave diary study across 10 consecutive workdays, we found that engaging in abusive supervisory behavior was associated with improved recovery level. Moreover, abusive supervisory behavior had a positive indirect effect on work engagement through recovery level. Interestingly, supplemental analyses suggested that these beneficial effects were short-lived because, over longer periods of time (i.e., one week and beyond), abusive supervisory behavior were negatively related to supervisors’ recovery level and engagement. The strength of these short-lived beneficial effects was also bound by personal and contextual factors. Empathic concern–a personal factor–and job demands–a contextual factor–moderated the observed effects. Specifically, supervisors with high empathic concern or low job demands experienced fewer benefits after engaging in abusive supervisory behavior. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of these findings, and propose future research directions.

Being a jerk at work doesn’t pay off for long
Source: Andy Henion, Futurity, September 28th, 2017

New onset of asthma and job status change among world trade center responders and workers

Source: Hyun Kim, Sherry Baron, Navneet K. Baidwan, Adam Schwartz and Jacqueline Moline, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, First published: September 14, 2017
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From the abstract:
Despite the high rates, the consequences of new onset asthma among the World Trade Center (WTC) responders in terms of the change in job status have not been studied.

This study consists of a cohort of 8132 WTC responders out of the total 25 787 responders who held a full-time job at the baseline visit, and participated in at least one follow-up visit.

Overall, 34% of the study cohort changed their job status from full-time at a follow-up visit. Multivariable models showed that asthmatics were respectively 27% and 47% more likely to have any job status change and get retired, and twice as likely to become disabled as compared to non-asthmatics.

With asthma incidence from WTC exposure, negative job status change should be considered as a potential long-term consequence of WTC exposure.

Violation Tracker – September 2017 update

Source: Good Jobs First. September 19, 2017

From the press release:
An expansion of Violation Tracker, the first public database of corporate crime and misconduct in the United States, now makes it possible to access details of cases ranging from the big business scandals of the early 2000s during the Bush administration through those of the Trump administration to date. …. The expansion nearly doubles the size of Violation Tracker to 300,000 entries, which together account for more than $394 billion in fines and settlements. As a measure of how corporate crime is concentrated within big business, 95 percent of those penalty values were assessed against only 2,800 large parent companies whose subsidiaries are linked together in the database. Approximately 200,000 smaller businesses account for the remaining five percent of the dollar total. ….

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People of color breathe more air pollution

Source: Jennifer Langston-Washington, Futurity, September 17, 2017

People of color are exposed to more pollution from cars, trucks, and power plants than whites, a new 10-year study shows. Researchers estimated exposure to outdoor concentrations of a transportation-related pollutant—nitrogen dioxide (NO2)— in both 2000 and 2010, based on neighborhoods where people live and found that disparities in NO2 exposure were larger by race and ethnicity than by income, age, or education. Further, that relative inequality persisted across the decade. While absolute differences in exposure to the air pollutant dropped noticeably during that time period for all populations, the relative difference—or the percent difference between pollution levels to which white people and people of color were exposed—narrowed only a little…..

…..If people of color had breathed the lower NO2 levels experienced by whites in 2010, it would have prevented an estimated 5,000 premature deaths from heart disease among the nonwhite group, researchers say…..

Changes in Transportation-Related Air Pollution Exposures by Race-Ethnicity and Socioeconomic Status: Outdoor Nitrogen Dioxide in the United States in 2000 and 2010
Source: Lara P. Clark, Dylan B. Millet, and Julian D. Marshall, Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 125 no. 9, September 2017

From the abstract:
Disparities in exposure to air pollution by race-ethnicity and by socioeconomic status have been documented in the United States, but the impacts of declining transportation-related air pollutant emissions on disparities in exposure have not been studied in detail.

This study was designed to estimate changes over time (2000 to 2010) in disparities in exposure to outdoor concentrations of a transportation-related air pollutant, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), in the United States.

We combined annual average NO2 concentration estimates from a temporal land use regression model with Census demographic data to estimate outdoor exposures by race-ethnicity, socioeconomic characteristics (income, age, education), and by location (region, state, county, urban area) for the contiguous United States in 2000 and 2010.

Estimated annual average NO2 concentrations decreased from 2000 to 2010 for all of the race-ethnicity and socioeconomic status groups, including a decrease from 17.6 ppb to 10.7 ppb (−6.9 ppb) in nonwhite [non-(white alone, non-Hispanic)] populations, and 12.6 ppb to 7.8 ppb (−4.7 ppb) in white (white alone, non-Hispanic) populations. In 2000 and 2010, disparities in NO2 concentrations were larger by race-ethnicity than by income. Although the national nonwhite–white mean NO2 concentration disparity decreased from a difference of 5.0 ppb in 2000 to 2.9 ppb in 2010, estimated mean NO2 concentrations remained 37% higher for nonwhites than whites in 2010 (40% higher in 2000), and nonwhites were 2.5 times more likely than whites to live in a block group with an average NO2 concentration above the WHO annual guideline in 2010 (3.0 times more likely in 2000).

Findings suggest that absolute NO2 exposure disparities by race-ethnicity decreased from 2000 to 2010, but relative NO2 exposure disparities persisted, with higher NO2 concentrations for nonwhites than whites in 2010.

Dirty Laundry: An Investigation

Source: Annie Hylton, Dissent, Summer 2017

…..While most New Yorkers recognize the thousands of storefront laundromats scattered across the city that offer drop-off washing or dry-cleaning services as well as coin-operated machines, few may be familiar with larger corporate-owned commercial laundromats, to whom these services are increasingly being contracted. Many of us have likely used a sheet or table cloth cleaned in a commercial laundry, which typically provides services for hotels, hospitals, restaurants, and neighborhood laundromats that outsource their laundry. The commercial laundry industry is growing: in the New York metropolitan area alone, the number of laundry and dry cleaning workers grew from about 9,480 in 2011 to 12,680 in 2016, according to the Department of Labor.

Commercial laundries can range from massive industrial operations employing hundreds or even thousands of workers to more modest “sweatshop” laundries, with anything from a dozen employees to fifty or more, like Suffolk, where Marlyn Gonzalez worked. It is in such commercial laundries, most of which are housed in large factory-like buildings in Queens, Long Island, and the Bronx, that thousands of laundry workers—largely African-American or immigrant women—labor in hot, crowded, and often dangerous or toxic conditions to clean the linens used by millions of New Yorkers. And it is these workers who endure the consequences of an industry plagued by poor working conditions, exploitation, and abuse…..

Deadly Picket-Lines in US Labour History

Source: Paul F. Lipold and Larry W. Isaac, International Union Rights, Vol. 24 No. 2, 2017
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Dead men tell no tales; that is, until the living give them voice. From 1870 to 1970, a veritable victims’ chorus of no fewer than 1160 fatalities was amassed during labour dispute confrontations within the United States of America. Each was simultaneously an expression of and catalyst within the dialectical evolution of US labour-management relations. …. Between 1877 to 1947, the US labour movement experienced the most violent and bloody era of and Western industrialized nation: strikers, organisers, and their sympathizers comprised nearly two-thirds of the classifiable victims. ….

Work organization, health, and obesity in urban transit operators: A qualitative study

Source: Marnie Dobson, BongKyoo Choi and Peter L. Schnall, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, First published: 18 August 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Urban transit operators have high rates of obesity, hypertension, and other cardiovascular risk-factors compared to other occupations. There have been few qualitative studies exploring the interrelationships between the organization of transit work, stress, and health including obesity, from the perspective of operators.

Five focus groups were conducted at five Divisions in a transit authority in Southern California and included 65 bus and rail operators.

Operators reported a great deal of stress related to their work, including 1) time pressures and lack of recovery time; 2) long work shifts and overtime; 3) feeling unsafe when dealing with the public; 4) lack of respect from supervisors and management. Operators believed stressful working conditions negatively impacted their health and weight.

This qualitative study yielded new as well as confirmatory data about stress and transit work organization, health, and weight in operators. This study will add to future survey research and interventions in this population.