Special Issue "Recent Advances in Occupational Exposure Assessment to Chemical Agents"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Occupational Safety and Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Mariella Carrieri
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Cardiac, Thoracic, Vascular Sciences and Public Health, University of Padova, via Giustiniani, 2, 35128 Padova, Italy
Interests: occupational hygiene; environmental and biological monitoring; wood dust exposure; benzene exposure; dermal exposure; healthcare chemical risk assessment; environmental sampling
Prof. Maria Luisa Scapellato
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Cardiac, Thoracic, Vascular Sciences and Public Health, University of Padova, via Giustiniani, 2, 35128 Padova, Italy
Interests: industrial toxicology and hygiene; biological monitoring; healthcare risk assessment and management; health surveillance and promotion; occupational health and gender
Prof. Dr. Andrea Trevisan
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Cardiac, Thoracic, Vascular Sciences and Public Health, University of Padova, via Giustiniani, 2, 35128 Padova, Italy
Interests: industrial toxicology; biological monitoring; metal toxicity; biological risk; health surveillance and promotion

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Over the last years, we have observed some changes in the occupational exposure to chemical agents that have opened the way to new challenges in exposure assessment. In most developed countries, we have seen a decrease of the exposure levels for several chemicals, but, on the other hand, we had to face the exposure assessment of new and emerging chemical agents being used in new technologies and materials (nanotechnologies and nanomaterials, ultrafine particles, rare hard metals, and so on). This has resulted in the development of new reliable sampling and analytical methods to assess the exposure of workers.

Moreover, we helped investigate occupational diseases connected with old hazards but in non-traditional exposure scenarios.

This Special Issue aims to make known recent research addressing these topics that can effectively improve occupational exposure assessments. All original contributions and on-field studies are welcome to be included in this Special Issue.

Dr. Mariella Carrieri
Prof. Maria Luisa Scapellato
Prof. Andrea Trevisan
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • occupational exposure
  • chemical agents
  • sampling methods
  • analytical methods
  • environmental monitoring
  • biological monitoring
  • biomarkers of exposure
  • dust exposure
  • silica exposure
  • organic solvents exposure
  • metals exposure

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Upper and Lower Respiratory Signs and Symptoms in Workers Occupationally Exposed to Flour Dust
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(19), 7075; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17197075 - 27 Sep 2020
Abstract
A group of 142 bakers was studied in order to investigate the relationship between higher/lower respiratory signs/symptoms and inflammation biomarkers and occupational exposure to flour dust. A complete upper and lower respiratory tract evaluation was performed. Seven percent of bakers complained of lower [...] Read more.
A group of 142 bakers was studied in order to investigate the relationship between higher/lower respiratory signs/symptoms and inflammation biomarkers and occupational exposure to flour dust. A complete upper and lower respiratory tract evaluation was performed. Seven percent of bakers complained of lower respiratory symptoms, while 22% of them complained of upper respiratory symptoms. Fifty five percent of the bakers were allergic, and 37.1% showed sensitization to occupational allergens. Abnormal spirometries were found in 15% of bakers, while fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) was above the normal reference in 24.5% of them. Moreover, 23.8% of bakers were found to be hyposmic. Population mean peak nasal inspiratory flow (PNIF) was in the normal range even if almost all the workers suffered from neutrophilic rhinitis at nasal cytology with the number of nasal neutrophils increasing with the increase of the duration of exposure to flour dust (p = 0.03). PNIF and FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in the 1st second) showed a positive correlation (p = 0.03; r = 0.19). The Tiffeneau index decreased with the increase of dust (p = 0.017). A similar result was obtained once we divided our population into smokers and non-smokers (p = 0.021). Long-term exposure to bakery dusts can lead to a status of minimal nasal inflammation and allergy. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Occupational Exposure to Flour Dust. Exposure Assessment and Effectiveness of Control Measures
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(14), 5182; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17145182 - 17 Jul 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
The adverse effects associated with exposure to flour dust have been known since the 1700s. The aim of the study was to assess the occupational exposure to flour dust in Italian facilities, identify the activities characterized by the highest exposure, and provide information [...] Read more.
The adverse effects associated with exposure to flour dust have been known since the 1700s. The aim of the study was to assess the occupational exposure to flour dust in Italian facilities, identify the activities characterized by the highest exposure, and provide information to reduce workers’ exposure. The study was performed in different facilities such as flourmills (n = 2), confectioneries (n = 2), bakeries (n = 24), and pizzerias (n = 2). Inhalable flour dust was assessed by personal and area samplings (n = 250) using IOM (Institute of Occupational Medicine) samplers. The results showed personal occupational exposure to flour dust over the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygiene (ACGIH) and the Scientific Committee on Occupational Exposure Limit (SCOEL) occupational limits (mean 1.987 mg/m3; range 0.093–14.055 mg/m3). The levels were significantly higher for dough makers in comparison to the dough formers and packaging area subjects. In four bakeries the industrial hygiene surveys were re-performed after some control measures, such as installation of a sleeve to the end of pipeline, a lid on the mixer tub or local exhaust ventilation system, were installed. The exposure levels were significantly lower than those measured before the introduction of control measures. The exposure level reduction was observed not only in the dough making area but also in all bakeries locals. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Characterization of Silica Exposure during Manufacturing of Artificial Stone Countertops
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(12), 4489; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17124489 - 22 Jun 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Artificial stone is increasing in popularity in construction applications, including commercial and residential countertops. Eco-friendliness, durability, and resistance to staining, make artificial stone attractive to consumers. Health concerns have arisen during manufacturing of artificial stone due to increased incidence of silicosis after relatively [...] Read more.
Artificial stone is increasing in popularity in construction applications, including commercial and residential countertops. Eco-friendliness, durability, and resistance to staining, make artificial stone attractive to consumers. Health concerns have arisen during manufacturing of artificial stone due to increased incidence of silicosis after relatively short exposure. Three artificial stone samples (A, B, and C) and one natural granite sample were subjected to cutting and grinding in a controlled environment. Gravimetric analysis, X-Ray diffraction, and scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive spectroscopy were employed to determine crystalline silica concentrations and particle morphology of bulk and respirable particles. Silica content of bulk dust from artificial samples A and B was 91%, sample C was <10%, while granite was 31%. Silica percent in the respirable fraction for samples A and B was 53% and 54%, respectively, while sample C was <5% and granite was 8%. Number concentrations for samples A and B were mainly in the nano-fraction, indicating potential for translocation of silica particles to other organs outside of the lungs. Respirable dust concentrations inside the chamber were well above Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards for all materials, indicating that confined-space exposures require ventilation to lower risks of acute silicosis regardless of the nature of the stone. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Interception Systems in Assessment of Dermal Exposure to Pesticides: Laboratory Comparison of Media
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(12), 4389; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17124389 - 18 Jun 2020
Abstract
Dermal exposure of workers to pesticides can be assessed using patches, placed on the workers’ clothes or used to wipe off the substance from the skin. Since there are no official indications of the materials to be used for patch sampling, a wide [...] Read more.
Dermal exposure of workers to pesticides can be assessed using patches, placed on the workers’ clothes or used to wipe off the substance from the skin. Since there are no official indications of the materials to be used for patch sampling, a wide range of materials is suggested in the scientific literature. This paper reports a laboratory study on the affinity of four different pesticides widely used in southern Italy with five patch matrices. Imidacloprid, Hexythiazox, Boscalid and Myclobutanil were tested with cotton and gauze sheets, polyethylene tissue and two different grades of cellulose papers. An aerosol machine was used to nebulize the substance on the patches in a closed system, simulating the conditions of use on the workers’ clothes. The recovery of the analytes from the media was evaluated, by spiking the patches with a known amount of each active substance and testing their performances as skin wipes. Samples were extracted and analyzed in gas chromatography with an electron capture detector. The recovery from the spiked patches was 89–96% for all pesticides, while the test recoveries were very different. Results showed a higher affinity with Imidacloprid and Hexythiazox for gauze, with Myclobutanil for cotton and with Boscalid for paper filters (W41). Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluation of Occupational Exposure to Perchlorethylene in a Group of Italian Dry Cleaners Using Noninvasive Exposure Indices
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(16), 2832; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16162832 - 08 Aug 2019
Abstract
Recent data suggest a general trend in decreased occupational exposure to perchlorethylene (PCE) in the dry-cleaning sector. The aims of this study were to confirm this trend to lower exposure levels in a group of Italian dry cleaners and to evaluate the current [...] Read more.
Recent data suggest a general trend in decreased occupational exposure to perchlorethylene (PCE) in the dry-cleaning sector. The aims of this study were to confirm this trend to lower exposure levels in a group of Italian dry cleaners and to evaluate the current occupational PCE exposure in these works using noninvasive biological indices. Environmental exposure was assessed by personal sampling in 60 operators working in 21 dry cleaning shops in North Italy. PCE in the exhaled alveolar air (PCEalv), urinary concentration of PCE and of trichloroacetic acid (TCA) (PCEu and TCAu respectively), were measured as biological exposure indices. Median PCE environmental concentration in the whole sample was 10.6 mg/m3 (i.e., less than the 25% of the levels measured in the same area in a previous study). All values were less than 10% of the occupational limits. PCEu measured in samples collected at the end of the work shift resulted the biological markers having the strongest correlation with environmental PCE (r = 0.81). PCEalv also resulted in a high correlation (r = 0.66), while a lower correlation was found for TCAu measured at the end shift (r = 0.32). According to our results, PCEu can be proposed as a valid, noninvasive, and easily reliable exposure index to evaluate PCE exposure at the low levels currently observed in dry cleaners, therefore representing a promising alternative to invasive blood sample collections needed to determine PCE blood concentration. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Recent Advances in Occupational Exposure Assessment of Aerosols
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(18), 6820; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186820 - 18 Sep 2020
Abstract
Exposure science is underpinned by characterization (measurement) of exposures. In this article, six recent advances in exposure characterization by sampling and analysis are reviewed as tools in the occupational exposure assessment of aerosols. Three advances discussed in detail are (1) recognition and inclusion [...] Read more.
Exposure science is underpinned by characterization (measurement) of exposures. In this article, six recent advances in exposure characterization by sampling and analysis are reviewed as tools in the occupational exposure assessment of aerosols. Three advances discussed in detail are (1) recognition and inclusion of sampler wall deposits; (2) development of a new sampling and analytical procedure for respirable crystalline silica that allows non-destructive field analysis at the end of the sampling period; and (3) development of a new sampler to collect the portion of sub-300 nm aerodynamic diameter particles that would deposit in human airways. Three additional developments are described briefly: (4) a size-selective aerosol sampler that allows the collection of multiple physiologically-relevant size fractions; (5) a miniaturized pump and versatile sampling head to meet multiple size-selective sampling criteria; and (6) a novel method of sampling bioaerosols including viruses while maintaining viability. These recent developments are placed in the context of the historical evolution in sampling and analytical developments from 1900 to the present day. While these are not the only advances in exposure characterization, or exposure assessment techniques, they provide an illustration of how technological advances are adding more tools to our toolkit. The review concludes with a number of recommended areas for future research, including expansion of real-time and end-of-shift on-site measurement, development of samplers that operate at higher flow-rates to ensure measurement at lowered limit values, and development of procedures that accurately distinguish aerosol and vapor phases of semi-volatile substances. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Retrospective Exposure Assessment Methods Used in Occupational Human Health Risk Assessment: A Systematic Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(17), 6190; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17176190 - 26 Aug 2020
Abstract
As part of the assessment and management of chemical risk and occupational hygiene, retrospective exposure assessment (REA) to chemical agents can be defined as the estimate of exposure associated with a person’s work history. The fundamental problem underlying the reconstruction of the exposure [...] Read more.
As part of the assessment and management of chemical risk and occupational hygiene, retrospective exposure assessment (REA) to chemical agents can be defined as the estimate of exposure associated with a person’s work history. The fundamental problem underlying the reconstruction of the exposure is that of transforming this type of information in quantitative terms to obtain an accurate estimate. REA can follow various approaches, some of which are technically complicated and both time and resource consuming. The aim of this systematic review is to present the techniques mainly used for occupational REA. In order to carry out this evaluation, a systematic review of the scientific literature was conducted. Forty-four studies were identified (published from 2010 to date) and analyzed. In exposure reconstruction studies, quantitative approaches should be preferable, especially when estimates will be used in the context of health impact assessment or epidemiology, although it is important to stress how, ideally, the experimental data available for the considered scenario should be used whenever possible as the main starting information base for further processing. To date, there is no single approach capable of providing an accurate estimate of exposure for each reasonably foreseeable condition and situation and the best approach generally depends on the level of information available for the specific case. The use of a combination of different reconstruction techniques can, therefore, represent a powerful tool for weighting and integrating data obtained through qualitative and quantitative approaches, in order to obtain the best possible estimate. Full article
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