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Johannesburg, South Africa

Ndlovu N.,National Institute for Occupational Health
Global health action | Year: 2013

Environmentally acquired asbestos-related diseases (ARDs) are of concern globally. In South Africa, there is widespread contamination of the environment due to historical asbestos mining operations that were poorly regulated. Although the law makes provision for the compensation of occupationally acquired ARDs, compensation for environmentally acquired ARDs is only available through the Asbestos Relief Trust (ART) and Kgalagadi Relief Trust, both of which are administered by the ART. This study assessed ARDs and compensation outcomes of environmental claims submitted to the Trusts. The personal details, medical diagnoses, and exposure information of all environmental claims considered by the Trusts from their inception in 2003 to April 2010 were used to calculate the numbers and proportions of ARDs and compensation awards. There were 146 environmental claimants of whom 35 (23.9%) had fibrotic pleural disease, 1 (0.7%) had lung cancer, and 77 (52.7%) had malignant mesothelioma. 53 (36.3%) claimants were compensated: 20 with fibrotic pleural disease and 33 with mesothelioma. Of the 93 (63.7%) claimants who were not compensated, 33 had no ARDs, 18 had fibrotic pleural disease, 1 had lung cancer, and 44 had mesothelioma. In addition to having ARDs, those that were compensated had qualifying domestic (33; 62.2%) or neighbourhood (20; 37.8%) exposures to asbestos. Most of the claimants who were not compensated had ARDs but their exposures did not meet the Trusts' exposure criteria. This study demonstrates the environmental impact of asbestos mining on the burden of ARDs. Mesothelioma was the most common disease diagnosed, but most cases were not compensated. This highlights that there is little redress for individuals with environmentally acquired ARDs in South Africa. To stop this ARD epidemic, there is a need for the rehabilitation of abandoned asbestos mines and the environment. These issues may not be unique to South Africa as many countries continue to mine and use asbestos.

Nielsen M.B.,National Institute for Occupational Health | Nielsen M.B.,University of Bergen | Einarsen S.,University of Bergen
Occupational Medicine | Year: 2012

Background: Exposure to workplace sexual harassment (SH) has been associated with impaired mental health, but longitudinal studies confirming the relationship are lacking. Aims: To examine gender differences in prospective associations between SH and psychological distress. Methods: Baseline questionnaire survey data were collected in 2005 in a representative sample of Norwegian employees. Follow-up data were collected in 2007. SH was measured with the Bergen Sexual Harassment Scale. Psychological distress was measured with the 25 item Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSCL-25) with cases of psychological distress defined as having a mean score of <1.75. Variables were measured at both baseline and follow-up. Logistic regression analysis was used to analyse data. Results: Response rates were 57% in 2005 and 75% in 2007 when the final cohort comprised 1775 respondents. After adjusting for baseline distress and age, exposure to SH at baseline was associated with psychological distress at follow-up among women [odds ratio (OR): 2.03; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.2-3.39] but not men (OR: 1.32; 95% CI: 0.72-2.43). Baseline distress was significantly related to SH at follow-up among men (OR: 3.03; 95% CI: 1.74-5.26) but not women (OR: 1.15; 95% CI: 0.69-1.92). Conclusions: The study found that SH contributed to subsequent psychological distress among women. Workplace measures against SH would be expected to lead to a reduction in mental disorders. The finding that psychological distress predicts SH among men may indicate either a vulnerability factor or a negative perception mechanism. © The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society of Occupational Medicine. All rights reserved.

Batterman S.,University of Michigan | Su F.-C.,University of Michigan | Jia C.,University of Memphis | Naidoo R.N.,University of KwaZulu - Natal | And 2 more authors.
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2011

Despite the toxicity and widespread use of manganese (Mn) and lead (Pb) as additives to motor fuels and for other purposes, information regarding human exposure in Africa is very limited. This study investigates the environmental exposures of Mn and Pb in Durban, South Africa, a region that has utilized both metals in gasoline. Airborne metals were sampled as PM2.5 and PM10 at three sites, and blood samples were obtained from a population-based sample of 408 school children attending seven schools. In PM2.5, Mn and Pb concentrations averaged 17±27ngm-3 and 77±91ngm-3, respectively; Mn concentrations in PM10 were higher (49±44ngm-3). In blood, Mn concentrations averaged 10.1±3.4μgL-1 and 8% of children exceeded 15μgL-1, the normal range. Mn concentrations fit a lognormal distribution. Heavier and Indian children had elevated levels. Pb in blood averaged 5.3±2.1μgdL-1, and 3.4% of children exceeded 10μgdL-1, the guideline level. Pb levels were best fit by a mixed (extreme value) distribution, and boys and children living in industrialized areas of Durban had elevated levels. Although airborne Mn and Pb concentrations were correlated, blood levels were not. A trend analysis shows dramatic decreases of Pb levels in air and children's blood in South Africa, although a sizable fraction of children still exceeds guideline levels. The study's findings suggest that while vehicle exhaust may contribute to exposures of both metals, other sources currently dominate Pb exposures. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.

Glynn J.R.,London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine | Murray J.,National Institute for Occupational Health | Murray J.,University of Witwatersrand | Shearer S.,Gold Fields Ltd | Sonnenberg P.,University College London
AIDS | Year: 2010

In a cohort of 1950 HIV-positive men with known dates of HIV seroconversion, 399 developed tuberculosis. Mortality rates following tuberculosis were greatly increased (hazard ratio, adjusted for age at seroconversion, 4.7, 95% confidence interval 3.7-6.1), and this ratio was similar at different times following seroconversion. Overall mortality was similar to that in western seroconverter cohorts with much lower rates of tuberculosis, suggesting that tuberculosis is more a marker of HIV progression than a cause of it. Copyright © 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Nattey C.,National Institute for Occupational Health
Global health action | Year: 2013

Disparities in health outcomes between the poor and the better off are increasingly attracting attention from researchers and policy makers. However, policies aimed at reducing inequity need to be based on evidence of their nature, magnitude, and determinants. The study aims to investigate the relationship between household socio-economic status (SES) and under-five mortality, and to measure health inequality by comparing poorest/least poor quintile mortality rate ratio and the use of a mortality concentration index. It also aims to describe the risk factors associated with under-five mortality at Rufiji Demographic Surveillance Site (RDSS), Tanzania. This analytical cross sectional study included 11,189 children under-five residing in 7,298 households in RDSS in 2005. Principal component analysis was used to construct household SES. Kaplan-Meier survival incidence estimates were used for mortality rates. Health inequality was measured by calculating and comparing mortality rates between the poorest and least poor wealth quintile. We also computed a mortality concentration index. Risk factors of child mortality were assessed using Poisson regression taking into account potential confounders. Under-five mortality was 26.9 per 1,000 person-years [95% confidence interval (CI) (23.7-30.4)]. The poorest were 2.4 times more likely to die compared to the least poor. Our mortality concentration index [-0.16; 95% CI (-0.24, -0.08)] indicated considerable health inequality. Least poor households had a 52% reduced mortality risk [incidence rate ratio (IRR) = 0.48; 95% CI 0.30-0.80]. Furthermore, children with mothers who had attained secondary education had a 70% reduced risk of dying compared to mothers with no education [IRR = 0.30; 95% CI (0.22-0.88)]. Household socio-economic inequality and maternal education were associated with under-five mortality in the RDSS. Targeted interventions to address these factors may contribute towards accelerating the reduction of child mortality in rural Tanzania.

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