Panel studies are an efficient means to assess short-term effects of air pollution and other time-varying environmental exposures. Repeated examinations of volunteers allow for an in-depth analysis of physiological responses supporting the biological interpretation of environmental impacts. Twenty-four healthy students walked for 1 h at a minimum of four separate occasions under each of the following four settings: along a busy road, along a busy road wearing ear plugs, in a park, and in a park but exposed to traffic noise (65 dB) through headphones. Particle mass (PM2.5, PM1), particle number, and noise levels were measured throughout each walk. Lung function and exhaled nitrogen oxide (NO) were measured before, immediately after, 1 h after, and approximately 24 h after each walk. Blood pressure and heart rate variability were measured every 15 min during each walk. Recorded air pollution levels were found to correlate with reduced lung function. The effects were clearly significant for end-expiratory flows and remained visible up to 24 h after exposure. While immediate increases in airway resistance could be interpreted as protective (muscular) responses to particulate air pollution, the persisting effects indicate an induced inflammatory reaction. Noise levels reduced systolic blood pressure and heart rate variability. Maybe due to the small sample size, no effects were visible per specific setting (road vs. park).
In the planning and authorization process of industrial plants or agricultural buildings, it needs to be ensured that odor emissions do not annoy nearby residents in an unacceptable way. Previous studies have shown that odor-hour frequency is an important predictor for odor annoyance. However, odor-hour frequencies can be assessed for day and night separately. The present study relates complaint rates with different odor types and different metrics of frequency calculated via a dispersion model. Binary logistic regression analyses show that odor type and frequency of odor-hours are important predictors for complaints, while type of residential area does not increase the predictive value of the model. The combination of calculated frequency of day time odor-hours and type of odor explains complaint rates best. It is recommended to keep odor emissions as low as possible, especially for highly annoying odor types.
In a cross-sectional study on 433 schoolchildren (aged 6–9 years) from 9 schools in Austria, we observed associations between housing factors like passive smoking and lung function as well as improved lung function in children who had been breast-fed. The latter findings urged the question of whether the protective effects of breast-feeding act on environmental stressors or if they act independently. Therefore, the effect of passive smoking on lung function was stratified by breast-feeding. The detrimental effects of passive smoking were significant but restricted to the group of 53 children without breast-feeding. Breast-feeding counteracts the effect of environmental stressors on the growing respiratory organs.
<strong>Breast-Feeding Protects Children from Adverse Effects of Environmental Tobacco Smoke </strong>Published: 14 November 2018 by MDPI AG in Proceedings
<p>In a cross-sectional study on 433 schoolchildren (aged 6-9 years) from 9 schools in Austria we observed associations between housing factors like passive smoking and lung function as well as improved lung function in children who had been breast-fed. The latter findings urged the question whether protective effects of breast feeding act on environmental stressors or if they act independently. Therefore the effect of passive smoking on lung function was stratified by breast-feeding. Detrimental effects of passive smoking were significant but restricted to the group of 53 children without breast-feeding. Breast feeding counteracts the effect of environmental stressors on the growing respiratory organs.</p>
Subjective Symptoms of Male Workers Linked to Occupational Pesticide Exposure on Coffee Plantations in the Jarabacoa Reg...Published: 25 September 2018 by MDPI in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Acute and sub-acute effects of pesticide use in coffee farmers have rarely been investigated. In the present field study, self-reported health symptoms from 38 male pesticide users were compared to those of 33 organic farmers. Results of cytological findings have been reported in an accompanying paper in this issue. The present second part of the study comprises a questionnaire based survey for various, potentially pesticide related symptoms among the coffee farmers. Symptom rates were generally higher in exposed workers, reaching significance in nine out of 19 assessed symptoms. Significantly increased symptom frequencies were related to neurotoxicity, parasympathic effects and acetylcholine esterase inhibition, with the highest differences found for excessive salivation, dizziness and stomach ache. We revealed a lack of precautionary measures in the majority of farmers. Better education, regulations, and safety equipment are urgently needed.
Cytotoxic and Genotoxic Effects of Pesticide Exposure in Male Coffee Farmworkers of the Jarabacoa Region, Dominican Repu...Published: 03 August 2018 by MDPI in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Intensive agrochemical use in coffee production in the Global South has been documented. The aim of this study was to investigate cytotoxic and genotoxic effects of pesticide exposure in male farmworkers in the Dominican Republic comparing conventional farming using pesticides to organic farming. Furthermore, feasibility of the buccal micronucleus cytome assay (BMCA) for field studies under difficult local conditions was tested. In a cross-sectional field study, pesticide exposed (sprayers) and non-exposed male workers on coffee plantations were interviewed about exposure history, and pesticide application practices. Buccal cells were sampled, and BMCA was applied to assess potential effects on cell integrity. In total, 38 pesticide-exposed and 33 non-exposed workers participated. Eighty-four and 87%, respectively, of the pesticide-exposed respondents did not use masks or gloves at all. All biomarkers from the BMCA were significantly more frequent among exposed workers—odds ratio for micronucleated cells: 3.1 (95% confidence interval: 1.3–7.4) or karyolysis: 1.3 (1.1–1.5). Buccal cells as sensitive markers of toxic oral or respiratory exposures proved feasible for challenging field studies. Our findings indicate that the impact of pesticide use is not restricted to acute effects on health and wellbeing, but also points to long-term health risks. Therefore, occupational safety measures including training and protective clothing are needed, as well as encouragement towards minimal application of pesticides and more widespread use of organic farming.
Potential Health Risk of Endocrine Disruptors in Construction Sector and Plastics Industry: A New Paradigm in Occupation...Published: 11 June 2018 by MDPI in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Endocrine disruptors (EDs) belong to large and diverse groups of agents that may cause multiple biological effects associated with, for example, hormone imbalance and infertility, chronic diseases such as diabetes, genome damage and cancer. The health risks related with the exposure to EDs are typically underestimated, less well characterized, and not regulated to the same extent as, for example, carcinogens. The increased production and utilization of identified or suspected EDs in many different technological processes raises new challenges with respect to occupational exposure settings and associated health risks. Due to the specific profile of health risk, occupational exposure to EDs demands a new paradigm in health risk assessment, redefinition of exposure assessment, new effects biomarkers for occupational health surveillance and definition of limit values. The construction and plastics industries are among the strongest economic sectors, employing millions of workers globally. They also use large quantities of chemicals that are known or suspected EDs. Focusing on these two industries, this short communication discusses: (a) why occupational exposure to EDs needs a more specific approach to occupational health risk assessments, (b) identifies the current knowledge gaps, and (c) identifies and gives a rationale for a future occupational health paradigm, which will include ED biomarkers as a relevant parameter in occupational health risk assessment, surveillance and exposure prevention.
Comment on Zheng et al. Association between Promoter Methylation of Gene ERCC3 and Benzene Hematotoxicity. Int. J. Envir...Published: 16 November 2017 by MDPI in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Note: In lieu of an abstract, this is an excerpt from the first page.Excerpt Benzene is an established carcinogenic substance [1,2].
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation has affected life at least since the first life forms moved out of the seas and crawled onto the land. Therefore, one might assume that evolution has adapted to natural UV radiation. However, evolution is mostly concerned with the propagation of the genetic code, not with a long, happy, and fulfilling life. Because rickets is bad for a woman giving birth, the beneficial effects of UV-radiation outweigh the adverse effects like aged skin and skin tumors of various grades of malignancy that usually only afflict us at older age. Anthropogenic damage to the stratospheric ozone layer and frighteningly high rates of melanoma skin cancer in the light-skinned descendants of British settlers in Australia piqued interest in the health impacts of UV radiation. A changing cultural perception of the beauty of tanned versus light skin and commercial interests in selling UV-emitting devices such as tanning booths caught public health experts off-guard. Counseling and health communication are extremely difficult when dealing with a “natural” risk factor, especially when this risk factor cannot (and should not) be completely avoided. How much is too much for whom or for which skin type? How even measure “much”? Is it the (cumulative) dose or the dose rate that matters most? Or should we even construct a more complex metric such as the cumulative dose above a certain dose rate threshold? We find there are still many open questions, and we are glad that this special issue offered us the opportunity to present many interesting aspects of this important topic.
In climbing halls, high levels of dust are found because magnesia powder is used to dry hands. Concerns have been raised about possible health effects after reports from asthmatics experiencing worsening of symptoms while or after climbing. We investigated acute and sub-acute effects of climbing in dusty halls on lung function in two pilot studies. The first study examined 109 climbers before and after a climbing activity that lasted at least 1 h. In the second study, 25 climbers from different age classes participated in a 2-day climbing competition. Of these, 24 agreed to take part in our investigation, but only 22 provided valid lung function tests on both days. The climbers underwent lung function tests before the first round of the competition (in the morning), after the second round approximately 3 h later and in the morning of the second day before the competition started again. In the first study, we found acute effects, a decline in lung function immediately after the exposure, likely due to protective reflexes of the bronchial muscles and stronger declines in persons with higher exhaled nitric oxide (NO) pre-climbing. In the second study, we also expected sub-acute effects on the next day due to inflammation. On the first day of the competition (second study), dust levels at a central monitor increased over time in a linear manner. Most of the dust was in the size range between 2.5 and 10 μm and dust levels of particulate matter (PM10) reached 0.5 mg/m
Ultra-Violet (UV) radiation covers the spectrum of wavelengths from 100 to 400 nm. The potency and biological activity for a variety of endpoints differ by wavelength. For monitoring and communication purposes, different UV action spectra have been developed. These spectra use different weighting functions. The action spectrum for erythemal dose is the most widely used one. This erythemal dose per time or dose-rate has been further simplified into a “UV index”. Following this example, in our review we use the term “index” or (plural) “indices” in a more general description for all simplified single-value measures for any biologically effective UV dose, e.g., for human non-melanoma skin cancer and for previtamin D production rate. Ongoing discussion about the existence of an increased melanoma risk due to UV-A exposure underscores the uncertainties inherent in current weighting functions. Thus, we performed an online literature search to review the data basis for these indices, to understand their relevance for an individual, and to assess the applicability of the indices for a range of exposure scenarios. Even for natural (solar) UV, the spectral composition varies spatially and temporally. Artificial UV sources and personal protection introduce further variation to the spectral composition. Many biological effects are proposed for UV radiation. Only few endpoints have been studied sufficiently to estimate a reliable index. Weighting functions for chronic effects and most importantly for cancer endpoints have been developed in animal models, and often for proxy endpoints only. Epidemiological studies on biological effects of UV radiation should not only depend on single-value weighted UV dose estimates (indexes) but should strive for a more detailed description of the individual exposure. A better understanding of the adverse and beneficial effects of UV radiation by wavelength would also improve medical counseling and health communication regarding individual health-supportive behavior.
In general, routine industrial hygiene (IH) data are collected not to serve for scientific research but to check for compliance with occupational limit values. In the preparation of an occupational retrospective cohort study it is vital to test the validity of the exposure assessment based on incomplete (temporal coverage, departments) IH data. Existing IH data from a large hard metal plant was collected. Individual workers’ exposure per year and department was estimated based on linear regression of log-transformed exposure data for dust, tungsten, and cobalt. Estimated data were back-transformed, and for cobalt the validity of the estimates was confirmed by comparison with individual cobalt concentrations in urine. Air monitoring data were available from 1985 to 2012 and urine tests from the years 2008 to 2014. A declining trend and significant differences among departments was evident for all three air pollutants. The estimated time trend fitted the time trend in urine values well. At 1 mg/m3, cobalt in the air leads to an excretion of approximately 200 µg/L cobalt in urine. Cobalt levels in urine were significantly higher in smokers with an interaction effect between smoking and air concentrations. Exposure estimates of individual workers are generally feasible in the examined plant, although some departments are not documented sufficiently enough. Additional information (expert knowledge) is needed to fill these gaps.
Newborns health in the Danube Region: Environment, biomonitoring, interventions and economic benefits in a large prospec...Published: 01 March 2016 by Elsevier BV in Environment International
Highlights•Many old environmental burdens in Europe are located in the Danube Region.•The data on in utero environmental exposures and early-life health are missing.•New birth cohort (NEWDANUBE) is proposed integrating human biomonitoring, epidemiological and social science research.•The knowledge base for European policy in the area of child and environmental health will be strengthened. AbstractBackgroundThe EU strategy for the Danube Region addresses numerous challenges including environment, health and socioeconomic disparities. Many old environmental burdens and heavily polluted areas in Europe are located in the Danube Region, consisting of 14 countries, with over 100 million people. Estimating the burden of environmental exposures on early-life health is a growing research area in Europe which has major public health implications, but the data from the Danube Region are largely missing.AimThis review presents an inventory of current environmental challenges, related early-life health risks, and knowledge gaps in the Danube Region, based on publicly available databases, registers, and literature, as a rationale and incentive for a new integrated project. The review also proposes the concept for the project aiming to characterize in utero exposures to multiple environmental factors and estimate their effect on early-life health, evaluate economic impact, as well as identify interventions with a potential to harness social norms to reduce emissions, exposures and health risks in the Danube Region.MethodsExperts in environmental epidemiology, human biomonitoring and social science in collaboration with clinicians propose to establish a new large multi-center birth cohort of mother-child pairs from Danube countries, measure biomarkers of exposure and health in biological samples at birth, collect centrally measured climate, air and water pollution data, conduct pre- and postnatal surveys on lifestyle, indoor exposures, noise, occupation, socio-economic status, risk-averting behavior, and preferences; and undertake clinical examinations of children at and after birth. Birth cohort will include at least 2000 newborns per site, and a subset of at least 200 mother-child pairs per site for biomonitoring. Novel biomarkers of exposure, susceptibility, and effect will be applied, to gain better mechanistic insight. Effects of multiple environmental exposures on fetal and child growth, respiratory, allergic, immunologic, and neurodevelopmental health outcomes will be estimated. Parent's willingness to pay for reducing health risks in children will be elicited by survey, while values of cost-of-illness will be gathered from literature and national statistics. Effects of risk reducing interventions will be examined.ConclusionsThe proposed project would provide novel estimates of the burden of early childhood diseases attributable to environmental exposures and assess health impacts of different intervention scenarios in the Danube Region, in an integrated approach combining human biomonitoring, epidemiological and social science research.
Sunbed Use Prevalence and Associated Skin Health Habits: Results of a Representative, Population-Based Survey among Aust...Published: 19 February 2016 by MDPI in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Recreational sunbed use accounts for the main non-solar source of exposure to ultraviolet radiation in fair-skinned Western populations. Indoor tanning is associated with increased risks for acute and chronic dermatological diseases. The current community-based study assessed the one-year prevalence of sunbed use and associated skin health habits among a representative, gender-balanced sample of 1500 Austrian citizens. Overall one-year prevalence of sunbed use was 8.9% (95% confidence interval (CI) 7.5%–10.4%), with slightly higher prevalence in females (9.2%, 95% CI 7.3%–11.2%) compared to males (8.6%, 95% CI 6.7%–10.6%). Factors predicting sunbed use were younger age (by trend decreasing with older age), place of living, smoking, skin type (by trend increasing with darker skin), sun exposure, motives to tan, and use of UV-free tanning products. Despite media campaigns on the harmful effects of excessive sunlight and sunbed exposure, we found a high prevalence of self-reported sunbed use among Austrian citizens. From a Public (Skin) Health perspective, the current research extends the understanding of prevailing leisure time skin health habits in adding data on prevalence of sunbed use in the general Austrian population.
Sun Exposure Prevalence and Associated Skin Health Habits: Results from the Austrian Population-Based UVSkinRisk SurveyPublished: 19 January 2016 by MDPI in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Recreational sun exposure accounts for a large number of acute and chronic dermatological diseases, including skin cancer. This study aimed at estimating the one-year prevalence of sun exposure and skin health-associated knowledge and attitudes among Austrian citizens. The population-based UVSkinRisk survey investigated a representative sample of Austrian adults using a structured questionnaire. In total, 1500 study subjects (median age 33.0 years, 50.5% females) participated in this questionnaire survey. Among study participants, prevalence of sun exposure was 47%, with slightly higher rates in males (48%) compared to females (46%). Younger age, lower professional category, darker skin type, motives to tan, sunbed use, sunburn, and outdoor sport activity increased the odds for prevalent sun exposure. This is the first population-based study evaluating the prevailing sun exposure and recreational habits influencing skin health among Austrian citizens. Despite public media campaigns educating on the harmful effects of sunlight exposure, we found a high prevalence of self-reported sunlight exposure. The results suggest that multifaceted socio-cultural characteristics stimulate recreational sun exposure and tanning habits. Communicating individualized Public (Skin) Health messages might be the key to prevent photo-induced skin health hazards in light-skinned populations. The practical and theoretical implications of these findings are discussed.
Gender aspects of recreational sun protective behavior: Results of a representative, population-based among Austrian res...Published: 23 November 2015 by Wiley in Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine
PurposeLifetime risk for melanoma skin cancer is enlarged by sunlight exposure and reduced by sun protection. Austrian melanoma incidence and mortality rates are constantly rising with higher rates in males. Thus, we aimed at investigating gender-specific recreational sun exposure habits among the Austrian population.MethodsWe conducted a telephone survey among 1500 adults (50.5% females) representing socio-demographic characteristics of the Austrian population. Using a structured questionnaire, we studied gender-specific sun exposure-related knowledge, motives to tan, and behavior.ResultsOverall, sunscreen use, wearing sunglasses, and seeking shade were among the three most frequent sun safe measures. Basic skin health knowledge and tanning motives were similar among genders, whereas females protected themselves more. In general, sunburn occurrence (odds ratio [OR]=1.4, 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.0-1.8), skin type IV (OR=2.4, 95%CI=1.3-4.5), ex-/non-smoking (OR=1.4-1.6, 95%CI=1.0-2.1), low motives to tan (both OR=1.3, 95%CI=1.0-1.7), no outdoor sport (OR=1.3, 95%CI=1.0-1.7), all p<0.05, as well as the use of lower SPF values (OR=1.0-3.0, 95%CI=1.4-4.3) and male gender (OR=1.6, 95%CI=1.2-2.0), both p<0.001, increased the odds of practicing low sun protection.ConclusionThe results of this investigation suggest considering gender specificity when planning Public (Skin) Health-related educative campaigns and programs, e.g., by highlighting the appearance-related benefits of sun light avoidance.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Perceived Relevance of Educative Information on Public (Skin) Health: Results of a Representative, Population-Based Tele...Published: 09 November 2015 by MDPI in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Individual skin health attitudes are influenced by various factors, including public education campaigns, mass media, family, and friends. Evidence-based, educative information materials assist communication and decision-making in doctor-patient interactions. The present study aims at assessing the prevailing use of skin health information material and sources and their impact on skin health knowledge, motives to tan, and sun protection. We conducted a questionnaire survey among a representative sample of Austrian residents. Print media and television were perceived as the two most relevant sources for skin health information, whereas the source physician was ranked third. Picking the information source physician increased participants’ skin health knowledge (p = 0.025) and sun-protective behavior (p < 0.001). The study results highlight the demand for targeted health messages to attain lifestyle changes towards photo-protective habits. Providing resources that encourage pro-active counseling in every-day doctor-patient communication could increase skin health knowledge and sun-protective behavior, and thus, curb the rise in skin cancer incidence rates.
In the cotton industry of Pakistan, 15 million people are employed and exposed to cotton dust, toxic chemicals, noise and physical hazards. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of health symptoms, particularly respiratory symptoms, and to measure cotton dust and endotoxin levels in different textile factories of Faisalabad, Pakistan. A cross-sectional investigation was performed in a representative sample of 47 cotton factories in the Faisalabad region in Punjab, Pakistan. Respiratory symptoms of 800 workers were documented by questionnaire. Occupational safety in the factories was assessed by a trained expert following a checklist, and dust and endotoxin levels in different work areas were measured. Prevalence of respiratory disease symptoms (fever, shortness of breath, chest tightness and cough) was generally high and highest in the weaving section of the cotton industry (20–40% depending on symptoms). This section also displayed the poorest occupational safety ratings and the highest levels of inhalable cotton dust (mean±SD 4.6±2.5 vs 0.95±0.65 mg/m3 in compact units). In contrast, endotoxin levels were highest in the spinning section (median 1521 EU/m3), where high humidity is maintained. There are still poor working conditions in the cotton industry in Pakistan where workers are exposed to different occupational hazards. More health symptoms were reported from small weaving factories (power looms). There is a dire need for improvements in occupational health and safety in this industrial sector with particular focus on power looms.
Cotton workers in small weaving household factories (power looms) in Pakistan are typically exposed to high levels of cotton dusts. Working in the textile manufacturing industry has been classified as a possible human carcinogen (group 2B) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The study set out to determine potential cytotoxic and genotoxic effects of occupational exposure to cotton dusts in exfoliated buccal cells of exposed cotton workers. Nuclear anomalies reflecting cytotoxic and genotoxic effects were evaluated in a representative sample of 51 exposed male cotton weavers and in the same number of age-matched male non-exposed subjects applying the micronucleus cytome assay. Nuclear anomalies reflecting cytotoxicity (karyolysis, karyorrhexis, condensed chromatin and pyknosis) were significantly elevated in exposed cotton workers. The frequency of micronucleated cells increased significantly with increasing years of work in power looms (odds ratio = 1.043 per year; 95% confidence interval: 1.012–1.076, P = 0.007). Results were consistent with the typical inflammatory pattern and injury in epithelia due to unprotected occupational exposure to cotton dusts and other toxic, allergic and infectious substances in the working areas of the cotton industry. Occupational exposure in power looms induces cytotoxic effects and, upon chronic exposure, DNA damage. This may eventually result in typical obstructive patterns of pulmonary symptoms and in a clinical condition called byssinosis in exposed cotton workers. Long exposure may lead to chronic inflammation and cumulative damage of DNA in buccal stem cells that may indicate an increased risk of oropharyngeal cancer.
The World Health Organization (WHO) provides data on national indices of health, environment and economy. When we were asked, why air pollution is negatively correlated with cancer mortality, our first response (presumably the mortality data are not age-adjusted) was not sufficient to explain the paradox.
Cross-sectional association between cigarette smoking and abdominal obesity among Austrian bank employeesPublished: 29 July 2014 by BMJ in BMJ Open
There is increasing evidence that smoking is associated with abdominal obesity and other risk factors for the metabolic syndrome. The aim of this study is to investigate these associations in a sample of healthy Austrian adults. Data of 986 employees of an Austrian company (405 men and 581 women; participation rate approximately 80%) obtained during their annual medical check-up at the workplace were analysed. Information on smoking status, education level, physical activity, diet, body weight, height, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and biochemical parameters was obtained. The influence of smoking on health and anthropometric measures was investigated. No differences in total body fat and/or body fat distribution were found between non-smokers, smokers and former smokers; however, among daily smokers, the number of cigarettes smoked per day was significantly associated with higher body weight (p=0.001) and BMI (p=0.009). Male and female smokers had significantly higher white cell count than non-smokers and former smokers. Heavy smokers also had an unhealthier lipid profile (lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol) and higher fasting glucose levels even after controlling for physical activity and calorie intake. Contrary to the beliefs of many smokers, heavy smoking is associated with higher body weight and unfavourable metabolic changes.
Connectedness to Nature and Public (Skin) Health Perspectives: Results of a Representative, Population-Based Survey amon...Published: 20 January 2014 by MDPI in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Connectedness to nature (CN) influences motivation to have contact with outdoor natural environments. Spending leisure time in natural environments is beneficial for human health and well-being. Besides these positive effects, health risks of open-air activities are mainly related to unprotected sun light exposure-associated acute and chronic skin hazards. Thus, we conducted a cross-sectional, representative telephone survey among Austrian residents to study the association of perceived CN level with sun-exposure knowledge, tanning habits, and sun protective behaviour. In total, 1,500 study subjects (50.5% females) participated in this questionnaire survey. Although knowledge about tanning and motives to tan were similar among genders, females performed more photoprotective measures and were more connected to nature (all p < 0.001) compared to males. Older age and outdoor sport were significant gender-independent predictor variables influencing perceived CN level. Additionally, level of education was relevant in male CN, whereas non-smoking and higher knowledge were predictive of female CN. This survey provides so far unreported empirical data on the relationship between nature connectedness and skin health-relevant recreational habits of Austrian residents. The findings suggest to integrate hitherto neglected gender-specific Public (Skin) Health promotion when counselling on the manifold health advantages of outdoor activities.
Annual solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is mostly determined by latitude and altitude. Over the last decades, increasing UVR ground levels have been observed. Exposure to UVR is associated with a life-time risk to develop melanoma, a malign skin cancer. Thus, we hypothesized that melanoma incidence in Austria is associated with altitude of place of living and time of diagnosis. We investigated this hypothesis in an ecological study by district and year for Austrian melanoma incidence (1990–2010) and mortality (1970–2011) data. As expected, incidence rates increased with altitude (about 2% per 10 m) and year (about 2%). Additionally, melanoma incidence rates were about 50% higher in urban than in rural districts. In contrast, mortality rates decreased with altitude (for males: 0.4% per 10 m, for women: 0.7% per 10 m, respectively). The observed discrepancy between incidence and mortality data could partly be explained by melanoma diagnosis at earlier tumor stage in districts with higher altitude. Possible reasons for this finding include higher awareness of patients, better diagnostic performance of medical professionals working at higher altitudes, or slower tumor growth due to protective effects of sun light-associated vitamin D synthesis.
Acute and Subacute Effects of Urban Air Pollution on Cardiopulmonary Emergencies and Mortality: Time Series Studies in A...Published: 02 October 2013 by MDPI in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Daily pollution data (collected in Graz over 16 years and in the Linz over 18 years) were used for time series studies (GAM and case-crossover) on the relationship with daily mortality (overall and specific causes of death). Diagnoses of patients who had been transported to hospitals in Linz were also available on a daily basis from eight years for time series analyses of cardiopulmonary emergencies. Increases in air pollutant levels over several days were followed by increases in mortality and the observed effects increased with the length of the exposure window considered, up to a maximum of 15 days. These mortality changes in Graz and Linz showed similar patterns like the ones found before in Vienna. A significant association of mortality could be demonstrated with NO2, PM2.5 and PM10 even in summer, when concentrations are lower and mainly related to motor traffic. Cardiorespiratory ambulance transports increased with NO2/PM2.5/PM10 by 2.0/6.1/1.7% per 10 µg/m3 on the same day. Monitoring of NO2 (related to motor traffic) and fine particulates at urban background stations predicts acute effects on cardiopulmonary emergencies and extended effects on cardiopulmonary mortality. Both components of urban air pollution are indicators of acute cardiopulmonary health risks, which need to be monitored and reduced, even below current standards.
Die Inzidenz von malignem Melanom ist in Österreich wie in vielen anderen Ländern in den letzten Jahrzehnten gestiegen. Neben verbesserter Diagnostik und Meldedisziplin sind für den Anstieg sowohl Änderungen im (Freizeit-)Verhalten als auch ein Anstieg der UV-Belastung als Folge der Zerstörung der stratosphärischen Ozonschicht (bis etwa zur Jahrtausendwende) verantwortlich. Regionale Unterschiede der Inzidenz in Österreich weisen auf ein höheres Risiko einerseits in urbanen Ballungsräumen, andererseits in Bezirken in höherer Lage hin. Um räumliche und zeitliche Trends in der Zukunft zu bestimmen wurde der Einfluss des Klimawandels auf die zukünftige Inzidenz untersucht. Der Klimawandel hat Auswirkungen auf das Freizeitverhalten der Menschen sowie aus klimatologischer Sicht auf Bewölkung und Sonnenscheindauer. Unter der Annahme der Erholung des stratosphärischen Ozons bis Mitte dieses Jahrhunderts, zeigen die Szenarien der biologisch relevanten UV Strahlung in der Zukunft abnehmende Tendenzen. Dieses von der Ozonänderung geprägte Bild ist einheitlich für alle ausgewählten Stationen. Die Szenarien der Bewölkung sind mit großen Unsicherheiten verbunden und sind trotz ihres entscheidenden Einflusses auf die UV Belastung in den rekonstruierten Daten nicht erkennbar. Die erwarteten Unterschiede zwischen den Stationen in verschiedenen Regionen sind nahezu ausschließlich auf Unterschiede in der Seehöhe zurückzuführen. Basierend auf einer repräsentativen Telefonbefragung wurden plausible Annahmen zum Freizeitverhalten in die Szenarienabschätzung integriert. Sensitivitätsanalysen zeigen, dass das (Freizeit-)Verhalten einen stärkeren Einfluss auf das Melanomrisiko hat als die UV-Strahlung vor Ort. Der Einfluss des Klimawandels auf das zukünftige Freizeitverhalten kann allerdings nur qualitativ diskutiert werden. Das Projekt UVSkinRisk wird aus Mitteln des Klima- und Energie-Fonds gefördert und im Rahmen des Programms „ACRP“ (2nd Call) durchgeführt.
It is well known that ozone concentration is associated with daily cause specific mortality. But which ozone metric is the best predictor of the daily variability in mortality? We performed a time series analysis on daily deaths (all causes, respiratory and cardiovascular causes as well as death in elderly 65+) in Vienna for the years 1991–2009. We controlled for seasonal and long term trend, day of the week, temperature and humidity using the same basic model for all pollutant metrics. We found model fit was best for same day variability of ozone concentration (calculated as the difference between daily hourly maximum and minimum) and hourly maximum. Of these the variability displayed a more linear dose–response function. Maximum 8 h moving average and daily mean value performed not so well. Nitrogen dioxide (daily mean) in comparison performed better when previous day values were assessed. Same day ozone and previous day nitrogen dioxide effect estimates did not confound each other. Variability in daily ozone levels or peak ozone levels seem to be a better proxy of a complex reactive secondary pollutant mixture than daily average ozone levels in the Middle European setting. If this finding is confirmed this would have implications for the setting of legally binding limit values.
WHO’s Children’s Environment and Health Action Plan for Europe (CEHAPE) focuses on improvements of indoor environments where children spend most of their time. To investigate the relationship between school indoor air pollutants and cognitive performance in elementary school children, a multidisciplinary study was planned in all-day schools in Austria.
As part of the European Public Health project IMCA II validity and practicability of "air pollution" as a respiratory health indicator were analyzed. The definitions of air quality as an indicator proposed by the WHO project ECOEHIS and by IMCA I were compared. The public availability of the necessary data was checked through access to web-based data-bases. Practicability and interpretation of the indicator were discussed with project partners and external experts. Air quality serves as a kind of benchmark for the good health-related environmental policy. In this sense, it is a relevant health indicator. Although air quality is not directly in the responsibility of health policy, its vital importance for the population's health should not be neglected. In principle, data is available to calculate this IMCA indicator for any chosen area in Europe. The indicator is relevant and informative, but calculation and interpretation need input from local expert knowledge. The European health policy is well advised to take air quality into account. To that end, an interdisciplinary approach is warranted. The proposed definition of air quality as a (respiratory) health indicator is workable, but correct interpretation depends on expert and local knowledge.
Respiratorische Reihenuntersuchungen an Schülern: Entscheidungsgrundlagen für die kommunale Gesundheitspolitik?Published: 01 March 2010 by Dustri-Verlgag Dr. Karl Feistle in Atemwegs- und Lungenkrankheiten
Inconsistent effects of gas cooking on lung function have been reported. In a previous study from Austria, we demonstrated a significant, though small, reduction of lung function parameters in children living in homes with gas stoves. We used a larger international database to check if this finding can be generalised.
Background: Living in a damp or mouldy home reportedly damages children’s respiratory health, yet mould appears not to be a prominent risk factor in the public’s perception. Analyses of data on over 58 000 children from the Pollution and the Young (PATY) study are presented. In this collaboration, researchers from 12 cross-sectional studies pooled their data to assess the effects of air quality on a spectrum of children’s respiratory disorders. Method: Original studies were conducted in Russia, North America and 10 countries in Eastern and Western Europe. Pooled analyses were restricted to children aged 6–12 years. Associations between visible mould reported in the household and a spectrum of eight respiratory and allergic symptoms were estimated within each study. Logistic regressions were used, controlling for individual risk factors and for study area. Heterogeneity between study-specific results and mean effects (allowing for heterogeneity) were estimated using meta-analysis. Results: Visible mould was reported by 13.9% of respondents in Russia, increasing to 39.1% in North America. Positive associations between exposure to mould and children’s respiratory health were seen with considerable consistency across studies and across outcomes. Confounder-adjusted combined ORs ranged from 1.30 (95% CI 1.22 to 1.39) for “nocturnal cough” to 1.50 (1.31 to 1.73) for “morning cough”. Evidence of stronger effects in more crowded households was statistically significant for only asthma and sensitivity to inhaled allergens. No consistent interactions between mould and age, sex or parental smoking were found. Conclusion: Indoor mould exposure was consistently associated with adverse respiratory health outcomes in children living in these diverse countries.
Die Nanotechnologie eröffnet faszinierende Möglichkeiten für Wissenschaft, Medizin und Industrie. Das nötige Kontrollinstrumentarium muss aber noch entwickelt werden, um Risiken für Umwelt und Gesundheit nach Möglichkeit zu vermeiden. Ein öffentlicher Diskurs, an dem auch informierte Vertreter der Öffentlichkeit teilnehmen, ist daher unabdingbar. Diese Arbeit zeigt die Lücken im derzeitigen Wissen auf, die einer ausführlichen Risikobewertung entgegenstehen. Diese reichen vom Verhalten der Nanoteilchen in der Umwelt, insbesondere was deren Persistenz unter verschiedenen Bedingungen betrifft, bis hin zu ihrem Schicksal im Organismus.
Background/methods: Current air pollution levels pose a threat to the health of children starting from conception. The scientific evidence is presented for mortality, morbidity, and sub‐clinical effects. The first section deals with exposure data, the following sections with the evidence of health effects from epidemiology and toxicology leading to recommendations.
We investigated the temporal association of various aerosol parameters with pollen counts in the pollen season (April 2001) in Linz, Austria. We were especially interested in the relationship between active surface (or Fuchsâ surface) because we had shown previously (Atmos. Environ. 37 (2003) 1737â1744) that this parameter during the same observation period was a better predictor for acute respiratory symptoms in school children (like wheezing, shortness of breath, and cough) and reduced lung function on the same day than particle mass (PM10). While active surface is most sensitive for fine particles with a diameter of less than 100 nm it has no strict upper cut-off regarding particle size and so could eventually be influenced also by larger particles if their numbers were high.
Nicotine and surface of particulates as indicators of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke in public places in Austri...Published: 01 January 2004 by Elsevier BV in International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health
As part of a Europe-wide project the amount of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) in public places like schools, restaurants, and public transport facilities was investigated. Three methods were applied: nicotine passive samplers (with a filter treated with sodium bisulphate), the same filters with an active sampling device, and the measurement of fine particles' active surface by unipolar diffusion charging. Settings were selected where either high or low ETS concentrations were expected and where non-smokers would have to stay or at least to pass by. Highest ETS concentrations were found in discos (mean nicotine concentration 154.4 maximum 487.1 microg/m3) and intermediate concentrations in restaurants with no significant difference between smoking (21.3 +/- 6.1 microg/m3) and non-smoking areas (23.3 +/- 15.9 microg/m3) but on average higher values in restaurants with no separation between smoking and non-smoking areas (38.0 +/- 60.6 microg/m3). Concentrations usually below 10 microg/m3 were found in transport facilities (8.9 +/- 8.0 microg/m3, maximum 20.6 in the restaurant section of a railway station's waiting room) and in schools (3.0 +/- 4.6 microg/m3). In hospitals "problem spots" were sought and so concentrations from very low to as high as 45.1 microg/m3 next to a smoking area with no physical barrier or separation and 47.7 microg/m3 inside a smoking room could be documented (21.4 +/- 39.3 microg/m3). The fine particle's surface correlated well with the nicotine concentration (r = 0.8; p < 0.001). Only in one instance (in a pizza restaurant on a busy road with heavy duty diesel traffic and the sampling spot next to the pizza stove) high concentration of fine particles was detected without high nicotine. Tobacco smoke is a key source of indoor fine particles. Health policy must intervene to change the situation found at present in many public places in Austria.