Occupational exposure and ill-health among workers during latex glove manufacturing in Thailand

Posted on February 6, 2013

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Good news again (2012 was a busy PhD year)! The second person to started a PhD with me has now handed in his monumental 306 page thesis, defended it against two of us peers, made some adjustments as a result of his viva, resubmitted it for their approval, and can now call himself Dr.  Sanguanchaiyakrit (or Dr. Yong for most people who are not from Thailand)!

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His 4-year work, entitled “Occupational exposure and ill-health among workers during latex glove manufacturing in Thailand” including quantitative exposure measurement surveys in 3 latex glove factories in Thailand, allergen determination in the samples, a questionnaire survey to obtain the prevalence of health symptoms in the workers’ populations in these factories and lung function testing, and found some interesting things that will hopefully be use to reduce occupational exposure to latex allergens in these workers. I think it is fair to say he did an aweful lot of work in those four yours. Of course, we hope to publish the peer-reviewed papers in the (near) future, so you can keep an eye out for these.

However, in the mean time hereby the abstract of his work, copied from his thesis. Any comments or questions please post them here, or email them to me and i will pass them on :-):

 

afp20091215p1413-f1Exposure to dust and latex allergens has been well established as a cause of health problems but there have been few studies that have examined the extent of problems in latex glove manufactures, especially in Thailand. Therefore, the overall aim of the study was to determine whether exposure to dust and latex allergens was associated with health problems in Thai latex glove manufacturing workers.

The study was conducted in 3 latex glove factories in southern Thailand that employed 1,481 workers (931 Thai and 550 foreign workers). Full shift personal air sampling of workers in 10 different departments was carried out using the IOM Multidust™ sampling Head equipped with 25 mm 1.0 mm Polytetrafluoroethyene filters at a flow rate of 2 L/min. A commercial ELISA kit was employed to quantify levels of the Hev b 6.02 latex allergen in air sample extracts. Information on demographics and, occupational history, exposures and health related problems attributed to work was collected by questionnaires completed by Thai workers. Lung function testing using a spirometer was also conducted among Thai workers. Univariate linear mixed-model analysis was used to determine differences in the dust and specific latex allergen concentrations between factories, departments, shifts and days. Multivariate linear mixed model analysis was used to determine exposure determinants to estimate exposure concentrations of inhalable dust and specific latex allergen. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine association between exposure to inhalable dust and specific latex allergens.

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292 air samples were collected. The geometric mean (GM) and a range of inhalable dust was 0.88 (0.01 – 12.34) mg/m3. The highest dust levels were found in the Stripping 3.01, (0.73 – 12.34) mg/m3 andlowestin the Office 0.11, (0.06 – 0.92 mg/m3) departments. Hev b 6.02 levels were 9.35 (4.08 – 345.53) ng/m3 and the highest and lowest levels were also found in the Stripping [19.76, (4.72 – 192.90) ng/m3] and Office [5.60, (4.37 – 14.64) ng/m3] departments. Factory and Department were important determinants of both inhalable dust and Hev b 6.02levels. 660 (157 men, 503 women) out of 931 workers completed a self-reported questionnaire. The prevalence of health problems attributed to work was highest for skin problems (25.0%) followed by Rhinitis (23.9%), conjunctivitis (22.5%) and cough (16.2%). Cumulative VINYL-GLOVES-PRODUCTION-LINE-300x225exposure to dust was associated with conjunctivitis attributed to work (OR and 95%CI = 1.02, [1.00 – 1.03]) after adjusted for confounders. A negative association was found between rhinitis and exposure to average dust level (OR and 95%CI =0.69 [0.48 – 0.99]). No other associations were found between either exposure to dust and self-reported ill-health. There were also no association between exposure to Hev b 6.02 and ill-health although skin problems were associated with the highest Hev b 6.02 level (OR and 95% CI = 1.72 [1.02 – 2.91]). Lung function testing was conducted in 474 Thai workers; 41 had airway restriction, 3 airway obstruction and 1 with a combined problem.  Cumulative exposure to dust was associated with airway restriction after adjustment for confounders (OR and 95% CI = 1.02 (1.00 – 1.04).

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