Top Posters Address Diacetyl Exposures, Noise Monitoring, Tobacco Workers' Illness

The displayed posters filled a large section of the expo floor in the Baltimore Convention Center. Many attendees walked up and down the rows seeking papers on topics of interest.

BALTIMORE -- Time spent perusing students' and professionals' research work displayed as conference posters is always well spent, and that proved to be the case again during the AIHce 2016 conference here. Posters winning "Best" awards at the event included analyses of coffee shop workers' illnesses because of their exposure to diacetyl, tobacco workers' nicotine poisoning and illnesses, and monitoring noise, among others.

The displayed posters filled a large section of the expo floor in the Baltimore Convention Center. Many attendees walked up and down the rows seeking papers on topics of interest. Noteworthy papers included these:

Diacetyl: J.S. Pierce and colleagues at San Francisco-based Cardno ChemRisk evaluated diacetyl risks faced by workers and customers in a small Chicago coffee shop during the preparation and consumption of unflavored coffee during a single day in December 2014. They found time-weighted eight-hour average exposures for baristas exceeded recommended exposure limits put forth by NIOSH and ACGIH, while workers who didn't prepare coffee (cashiers, maintenance workers, and others) may also have experienced exposures above the recommended limits. "These findings suggest that the practicality and scientific basis of the recommended OELs for diacetyl merit further consideration," they reported.

Noise exposures: Benjamin Roberts, MPH, and Dr. Rick Neitzel, Ph.D., CIH, of the University of Michigan Department of Environmental Health Sciences, reported that fifth-generation iPods with external microphones can make accurate measurements within 2 dBs of a noise dosimeter in intermittent noise. But the smart phone/microphone tools were less durable than traditional dosimeters, they found.

Tobacco workers: Researchers from the University of North Texas Health Science Center, the University of Kentucky, UT Dallas, and the University of Maryland evaluated 43 migrant workers at Kentucky farms, determining their baselines and following them up for six days. The workers, who cut tobacco stalks, pulled the leaves, and loaded the tobacco on trucks and hung the leaves in barns, experienced significant skin exposures that caused green tobacco sickness (GTS) in some workers. Two of the workers reported nicotine poisoning symptoms, including headache, dizziness, and vomiting. The researchers recommended administrative changes, safer work practices, and the use of PPE.

Thermal imaging: One paper from a group at the University of Utah tested the use of thermal imagers to assess heat stress experienced by male copper furnace tappers. The imagers may be useful for screening for workers' high heat stress, they reported.

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