Occupational factors in work-related inhalations: Inferences for prevention strategy

Authors

  • Paul D. Blanc MD, MSPH,

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco
    • Box 0924, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143-0924
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  • Mark Galbo MS,

    1. San Francisco Bay Area Regional Poison Control Center, San Francisco
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  • John R. Balmes MD,

    1. Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco
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  • Kent R. Olson MD

    1. San Francisco Bay Area Regional Poison Control Center, San Francisco
    2. Schools of Pharmacy and Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco
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Abstract

As part of a larger investigation of inhalational toxic exposures, we studied occupationally related cases in order to examine possible preventive strategies. We analyzed data from 224 structured interviews. Of the interviewed subjects, 48 (21%) reported closed space exposures and 44 (20%) concomitant skin exposure at the time of inhalation. Chlorine gas and bleach mixtures were the most common single reported exposure type, occurring in 54 (24%) of cases. The most common occupational groups represented were crafts workers, operatives, and laborers (n = 84, 38%), and service workers (n = 64, 29%). Adjusting for occupational group in a multiple logistic regression analysis that also included length of hire and access to personal respiratory protective equipment, report of prior specific chemical safety training was significantly protective against closed space inhalation (odds ratio (OR) = 0.2; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.1-0.4) and concomitant skin exposure (OR = 0.3, 95% CI = 0.1-0.7). These data suggest that chemical safety training may be an effective preventive strategy for potentially high-risk inhalational exposure scenarios.

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