Health effects of occupational exposure to traffic particles and noise


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PhD thesis: a PhD thesis.
Health effects of occupational exposure to traffic particles and noise
Meier R.
Riediker  M., Danuser  B.
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Université de Lausanne, Faculté de biologie et médecine
Faculté de biologie et de médecineUniversité de LausanneUNIL - BugnonRue du Bugnon 21 - bureau 4111CH-1015 LausanneSUISSE
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Exposure to fine particles and noise has been linked to cardiovascular diseases and elevated cardiovascular mortality affecting the worldwide population. Residence and/or work in proximity to emission sources as for example road traffic leads to an elevated exposure and a higher risk for adverse health effects. Highway maintenance workers spend most of their work time in traffic and are exposed regularly to particles and noise.
The aims of this thesis were to provide a better understanding of the workers' mixed exposure to particles and noise and to assess cardiopulmonary short term health effects in relation to this exposure. Exposure and health data were collected in collaboration with 8 maintenance centers of the Swiss Road Maintenance Services located in the cantons Bern, Fribourg and Vaud in western Switzerland. Repeated measurements with 18 subjects were conducted during 50 non-consecutive work shifts between Mai 2010 and February 2012, equally distributed over all seasons.
In the first part of this thesis we tested and validated measurements of ultrafine particles with a miniature diffusion size classifier (miniDiSC) - a novel particle counting device that was used for the exposure assessment during highway maintenance work. We found that particle numbers and average particle size measured by the miniDiSC were highly correlated with data from the P-TRAK, a condensation particle counter (CPC), as well as from a scanning mobility particle sizer (SMPS). However, the miniDiSC measured significantly more particles than the P-TRAK and significantly less than the SMPS in its full size range. Our data suggests that the instrument specific cutoffs were the main reason for the different particle counts.
The first main objective of this thesis was to investigate the exposure of highway maintenance workers to air pollutants and noise, in relation to the different maintenance activities. We have seen that the workers are regularly exposed to high particle and noise levels. This was a consequence of close proximity to highway traffic and the use of motorized working equipment such as brush cutters, chain saws, generators and pneumatic hammers during which the highest exposure levels occurred. Although exposure to air pollutants were not critical if compared to occupational exposure limits, the elevated exposure to particles and noise may lead to a higher risk for cardiovascular diseases in this worker population.
The second main objective was to investigate cardiopulmonary short-term health effects in relation to the particle and noise exposure during highway maintenance work. We observed a PM2.5 related increase of the acute-phase inflammation markers C-reactive protein and serum amyloid A and a decrease of TNFa. Heart rate variability increased as a consequence of particle as well as noise exposure. Increased high frequency power indicated a stronger parasympathetic influence on the heart. Elevated noise levels during recreational time, after work, were related to increased blood pressure.
Our data confirmed that highway maintenance workers are exposed to elevated levels of particles and noise as compared to the average population. This exposure poses a cardiovascular health risk and it is therefore important to make efforts to better protect the workers health. The use of cleaner machines during maintenance work would be a major step to improve the workers' situation. Furthermore, regulatory policies with the aim of reducing combustion and non-combustion emissions from road traffic are important for the protection of workers in traffic environments and the entire population.
Create date
24/10/2013 11:45
Last modification date
20/08/2019 15:04
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