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Experts to study effects of chemical exposures on respiratory health

The Report: January 1999 vol.19 num.5

by RACHEL NOTLEY and CAROL RIVIERE

HSA is assisting with a study of the effect of occupational chemicalexposure on the respiratory health of various groups of health care professionals. Thisstudy is being conducted by members of the Occupational and Environmental Lung DiseasesResearch Unit of the Department of Medicine, in conjunction with the Occupational HygieneProgramme of the University of British Columbia.

As part of this study, questionnaires will be mailed in the last weekof January to HSA members working in various paramedical professions.

Members will be asked to describe the degree to which they suffer fromrespiratory problems, and their level of exposure to certain chemicals at work.

In addition to this questionnaire survey, the researchers will beconducting a detailed field study of specific paramedical groups who are believed todevelop respiratory and other health problems due to occupational exposure to variouschemicals. This field study will include lung function testing and testing for bronchialhyperresponsiveness, in conjunction with measuring workplace exposure to variouschemicals.

All information provided by HSA members will be handled in a strictlyconfidential manner. It is hoped that at least preliminary results from both studies willbe available for review at the 1999 HSA Convention.

Many of our members have known for a long time that their workplaceexposure to various chemicals is having negative short term and long term effects on theirhealth.

The results of these studies are expected to provide empirical evidencewhich will enable HSA to advocate more effectively on behalf of these members ... bothto obtain assistance for members whose health has already been compromised by chemicalexposure, and to advocate for effective prevention measures to minimize future harmfulchemical exposure at work.

For this reason, all members who receive a questionnaire, or who areinvited to participate in the field study, are strongly encouraged to cooperate fully withthe researchers conducting these studies.

Carol Riviere is HSAs Labour Relations Officer for OH&S /WCB issues while Rachel Notley is on leave.

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