Occupational Asthma Reference

Poole CJM, Basu S, Occupational illness in the waste and recycling sector, Occup Med, 2017;67:626-636,https://doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqx153

Keywords: Review, rubbish, waste, recycling, hp, oa, bpa, aspergillus,

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Abstract

Background
The waste and recycling sector is a growing part of industry. Whether health surveillance is indicated and how it should be undertaken is unclear.

Aims
To undertake a review of the literature to identify hazards to health, biological effects and occupational illnesses for workers in the sector.

Methods
A systematic review of the published literature and two UK databases.

Results
Rates of fatal, non-fatal injuries and self-reported work-related illness were found to be higher in the waste and recycling sector than in UK industry as a whole. There was an increased prevalence of respiratory, gastro-intestinal and skin complaints in workers exposed to compost relative to controls. They may also be at increased risk of extrinsic allergic alveolitis, allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis, occupational asthma and abnormalities of lung function. Workers involved with the recycling of batteries and cables may be at risk of lead poisoning and exposure to other heavy metals. There were case reports of mercury poisoning from the recycling of fluorescent lights. Cases of occupational asthma have been reported in association with wood and paper recycling. The recycling of e-waste may cause exposure to heavy metals and organic pollutants, such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers, dioxins and polyaromatic hydrocarbons, which have been associated with damage to DNA and adverse neonatal outcomes.

Conclusions
Ill-health and adverse biological effects have been described in waste and recycling workers, but their true prevalence has probably not been captured. Targeted health surveillance may be required to assess exposure and to identify occupational illness.

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