Research Update: Roots of Hospital Workers' Asthma Examined

"Work-related respiratory symptoms in hospital workers may be associated with diverse biological contaminants," the researchers concluded.

A field study performed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health at two hospitals evaluated whether employees' respiratory symptoms and asthma were related to damp indoor environments. The study was published in the journal Indoor Air, which is published on behalf of the International Society of Indoor Air Quality and Climate.

After a cluster of six work-related asthma cases came from one hospital department, with the symptoms arising during a time of significant water incursions, agency personnel surveyed 1,171 of 1,834 employees working in the sentinel cases hospital and a nearby hospital without known indoor environmental concerns and also sampled dampness, air, chair, and floor dust for biological contaminants and investigated exposure-response associations for about 500 participants.

Post-hire asthma and work-related lower respiratory symptoms were found to be positively associated with the dampness score. Work-related lower respiratory symptoms showed monotonically increasing odds ratios with ergosterol, a marker of fungal biomass. Other fungal and bacterial indices, particle counts, cat allergen, and latex allergen were associated with respiratory symptoms. "Our data imply new-onset of asthma in relation to water damage, and indicate that work-related respiratory symptoms in hospital workers may be associated with diverse biological contaminants," they concluded.

Indoor Air, Volume 19, Issue 4, pages 279-356 (August 2009)"Asthma and respiratory symptoms in hospital workers related to dampness and biological contaminants," Jean M. Cox-Ganser, C.Y. Rao, J.-H. Park, J.C. Schumpert, and K. Kreiss, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Morgantown, W.Va., and Resources for Environmental and Occupational Health, Inc., Missoula, Mont. Correspondence to Jean Cox-Ganser, Ph.D., Research Team Supervisor, Field Studies Branch, Division of Respiratory Disease Studies, NIOSH, 1095 Willowdale Road, M/S 2800, Morgantown, WV 26505, phone 304-285-5818, fax 304-285-5820, e-mail [email protected].

New Tactics Reduce Facilities' Indoor Allergens
Installing new flooring, using larger entrance mats, and increasing air movement inside the facilities can reduce indoor allergens in schools and child care centers, according to a literature review conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health. The department conducted the review to inform school officials about the relationship between cleaning, indoor environmental quality, and health.

The authors recommended that school officials complete a thorough review of their custodial operations and optimize the maintenance programs, as well as teach teachers and other staffers to minimize clutter, prohibit second-hand furniture, properly care for plants, minimize eating in classrooms and clean up food debris, and take other steps to lessen the burden on custodial staffs.

"Cleaning, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Health: A Review of the Scientific Literature," Minnesota Department of Health.

Download Center

  • Industrial Premium Library

    Empower your workforce with the manufacturing, industrial maintenance, operations, HSE, compliance, and professional development skills they need to complete their tasks efficiently and safely. Not only will you boost productivity, reliability, skills, and morale but you’ll also onboard faster, and retain your best employees while meeting regulatory standards. Vector Solutions offers over 1,800 award-winning eLearning courses designed to keep your employees safe, transfer knowledge of fundamentals, and develop industry and job-specific skills that reduce downtime, maintenance costs and more.

  • Safety Metrics & Insights Webinar

    EHS professionals have been tackling the subject of how to best measure performance for many years. Lagging indicators like the Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) and Days Away Restricted Transfer Rate (DART) are a good place to start, but you shouldn’t forget about the leading indicators that your workforce does every day to prevent incidents from occurring. Learn about some of the most common KPIs of safety programs and how Vector EHS Management software can be used to track these metrics in this webinar.

  • Risk Matrix Guide

    Understanding the components of a risk matrix will allow you and your organization to manage risk effectively. Download this guide for details on risk matrix calculations including severity, probability, and risk assessment.

  • OSHA Recordkeeping Guide

    In case you missed it, OSHA recently initiated an enforcement program to identify employers who fail to electronically submit Form 300A recordkeeping data to the agency. When it comes to OSHA recordkeeping, there are always questions regarding the requirements and ins and outs. This guide is here to help! We’ll explain reporting, recording, and online reporting requirements in detail.

  • Safety Metrics Guide

    Is your company leveraging its safety data and analytics to maintain a safe workplace? With so much data available, where do you start? This downloadable guide will give you insight on helpful key performance indicators (KPIs) you should track for your safety program

  • Vector Solutions

Featured Whitepaper

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - September 2022

    September 2022


    • ESG
      EHS Will Guide Future ESG Success for Many Organizations
      Handling Material Handlers: Training Beyond PIT Requirements
      The Missing Link with EHS Software
      Noise Surveys from the Trenches
    View This Issue