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What's New from the Occupational Health Surveillance and Evaluation Program



Tracking work-related asthma in California

Work-related asthma (WRA) is under-recognized and often undiagnosed, but a new report estimates that nearly a million adults in California have had work-related asthma. “Asthma in California: A Surveillance Report” tracks asthma data for the state of California, and includes a chapter on WRA. The updated chapter includes rates of WRA by industry and occupation, types of exposure, measures of the impact of WRA, and data on the characteristics of people with WRA, such as gender and age.

View WRA chapter: Work-related asthma (PDF)Opens a new browser window.

View entire report: Asthma in California: A Surveillance Report (PDF, 6 MB) Opens a new browser window.

View executive summary: Asthma in California: Executive Summary (PDF)Opens a new browser window.

For more information on OHB work in this area, see Tracking Work-Related Asthma


Preventing worker deaths from methylene chloride

Methylene chloride (dichloromethane) is a widely used solvent that can cause serious illness or death when used in enclosed spaces. It is a cancer-causing chemical used in paint strippers, in the production of polymer foams and as a degreaser. OHB investigated the deaths of two California workers due to methylene chloride overexposure. Now OHB is launching a web page on preventing worker deaths from paint strippers containing methylene chloride.

Preventing worker deaths from paint strippers containing methylene chloride – Safer alternatives web page


Certification standards help employers buy safer cleaning products

Cleaning products can be hazardous. They can be corrosive to eyes and skin, highly toxic, and can cause asthma and other breathing problems. Custodians, cleaners and maintenance workers are most at risk from exposure to cleaning agents. The Work-Related Asthma Prevention Program in OHB has found that work-related asthma among custodians and cleaners is double the rate in the overall workforce. OHB has also found that other building occupants get asthma from cleaning chemicals used in their workplace.

Fortunately, it is now easier to find safer cleaning products. Two independent organizations, EcoLogo and Green Seal, publish third-party certification standards for safer products. OHB participated in the development of cleaning product standards and successfully argued for the prohibition of ingredients known to cause allergic-type asthma.

View full announcement: Certification standards help employers buy safer cleaning products (PDF) Opens in new browser window

For more information on OHB work in this area, see Tracking Work-Related Asthma


Preventing worker illness from indoor pesticide exposure – new web page and resources

A bank was temporarily closed when workers became ill on the Monday following a weekend building fumigation. Six workers sought medical attention for symptoms from eye tearing to vomiting. This is just one instance in which workers became ill when pesticides were used indoors. In data collected over 12 years by OHB’s Occupational Pesticide Illness Prevention Program, nearly one out of five people who reported work-related pesticide illnesses were exposed to pesticides in indoor air.

Because workers and customers can become ill from pesticide use indoors, steps should be taken to eliminate or reduce human exposures. There are effective and safe ways to control pests without the use of sprayed pesticides. OHB’s new web pages provide information and resources for employees, employers, building management and pest control companies to prevent illnesses from the use of indoor pesticides.

Preventing worker illness from indoor pesticide exposure – new web page

Keep pests and pesticides out of your office! (PDF) Opens in new browser window – fact sheet for workers (co-produced by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation)

 Managing pests and pesticides in your office (PDF) Opens in new browser window – fact sheet for employers and building managers (co-produced by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation)

 Bank workers become ill after fumigation (PDF) Opens in new browser window – pesticide hazard alert

For more information on OHB work in this area, see Tracking Pesticide-Related Illness and Injury


Acute illnesses associated with agricultural pesticide drift – journal article

Pesticides are widely used in agriculture. Off-target pesticide drift can result in exposures to workers and the public.  During 1998–2006, researchers identified 2,945 cases of acute illness associated with agricultural pesticide drift in California and 10 other states.  Soil fumigations were responsible for a number of large drift incidents.

Acute illnesses associated with agricultural pesticide drift (PDF) Opens in new browser window 

For more information on OHB work in this area, see Tracking Pesticide-Related Illness and Injury


 

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Last modified on: 5/22/2013 11:44 AM