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article imageMany workers are inadvertently taking home toxic residues

By Tim Sandle     Feb 10, 2020 in Health
A new study investigates the risks surrounding 'take-home' exposures, that is with workers who are exposed to various toxic contaminants as part of their job and then inadvertently bring this home, posing a risk to themselves and their families.
The U.S. research calls the level of toxic exposure a major health hazard and an area that has not been properly regulated. While some legislation exists for some types of toxic substances that workers might become exposed to, such as asbestos of lead, there are many other types of chemicals and materials that fall outside of current guidance. Furthermore, even where regulations exist these focus on the worker at work and do not extend to contamination brought back by the worker into the family home.
The findings come from the Boston University School of Public Health and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and the data indicates that exposure of work-related contaminants in the family home is relatively common.
According to lead researcher Dr. Diana Ceballos, one case study involved a workman who was employed at an electronics recycling facility. The man’s job included grinding down the lead glass from cathode ray tubes. The worker would bring home traces of lead dust on his body and clothing, producing particles deposited within the home environment. Over time the lead exposure adversely impacted upon the health of his young daughter and son. Significant levels of lead poisoning occurred in less than one year.
While levels of exposure might not cause harm for healthy adults, or at least less quickly, the levels can often cause harm to young children.
These risks are not, the researchers stress, the result of workers being careless or ignorant of health and safety standards. Instead the problem is bigger and requires government intervention and guidance.
Dr. Ceballos says: “To prevent the chronic, low-level, take-home exposures that are particularly harmful for developing children, a multi-tier intervention approach including interventions at the workplace, home, and community levels are needed.”
Many workers from multi-industries will be affected by the issue, not just those employed in chemical factories. The issue is a concern, as an example, for people engaged in more casual and precarious forms of employment, such as construction work.
The research has been published in the journal the Annals of Work Exposures and Health. The research paper is titled “Eliminating Take-Home Exposures: Recognizing the Role of Occupational Health and Safety in Broader Community Health.”
More about Environment, Toxins, toxicity, occupational exposure, Safety
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