Home Health Best practices for environmental health : environmental pollution, protection, quality and sustainability
FACTORS LEADING TO IMPAIRMENT AND BEST PRACTICES FOR THE OCCUPATIONAL ENVIRONMENT
Exposure to a variety of occupational risks may cause serious damage before pregnancy, during pregnancy, during infancy, and during the remainder of the individual’s life. Before conception, the future father may be exposed to estrogens, heat stress, lead, ionizing radiation, carbon disulfide, pesticides, vinyl chloride, etc., and this may lead to changes in genetic material causing birth defects. Before conception, future mothers may be exposed to ionizing radiation, carbon monoxide, ethylene glycol ethers, solvents, lead, mercury, pesticides, antimony, arsenic, cadmium, carbon disulfide, chlorinated hydrocarbons, nitrous oxides, vinyl chloride, etc., and this may lead to changes in genetic material causing birth defects.
As an example, pesticide exposure before or during pregnancy may cause an increased risk of death of the fetus, spontaneous abortion, and/or early childhood cancer. Pesticides may also cause premature birth, retardation of the growth of the fetus, low birth weight, and congenital malformations.
Four major occupational hazards during pregnancy include:
Occupational exposure can occur during the growth and development of the infant. The exposure may occur through the use of breast milk when the mother is exposed to PCBs, polybrominated biphenyls, pesticides, organic solvents, mercury, lead, methylene chloride, etc., and transfers the chemicals in the fluid to the infant. There is a potential for exposure from the parents’ clothing which may transfer industrial chemicals, pesticides, fibers, metal dust, and microbiological agents brought home from the workplace. For the work-at-home parent or hobbyist, there is the potential for the transfer of a vast number of contaminants to the infant.
Child labor can create an immediate and far-reaching problem. Hazardous work includes agriculture, factories, difficult service areas such as heavy domestic work, and construction, scavenging, or recycling. Children are more susceptible to hazards than adults. They are subjected to: mechanical hazards such as falling, being caught between objects or equipment, and being cut or burned; biological hazards such as insects, exposure to bacteria, viruses and parasites, and dangerous animals; chemical hazards such as dangerous gases, liquids, dusts, solvents, explosives, flammable, or corrosive materials, etc.
Their lack of physical and mental maturity may cause them to take unnecessary risks, misjudge situations, ignore appropriate safety considerations, etc. They also are more susceptible to a variety of chemical, physical, and biological agents. They may not be able to use appropriately personal protective equipment that was designed for adults. Poorly designed working environments, lifting and carrying heavy and bulky loads, driving or using machinery, or repetitive motion can lead to short-term and chronic injuries. They are less able to cope with extremes in temperature, noise, vibration, and radiation. Stress and continuous monotonous work may cause them to become less observant and more susceptible to injuries.
Children frequently receive injuries from cuts, fractures, burns, scalds, and insect and animal bites, and trauma to the soft tissues or skeletal system. These injuries may be temporary in nature or may cause long-lasting chronic effects in later life. Drowning is also a concern in the occupational environment for children.
Poisoning is a frequent problem of the children’s occupational environment. They are exposed to cleaning solutions, volatile solvents, and pesticides/fertilizers. They may be poisoned through inhalation, ingestion, or contact with the skin or eyes.
Chronic exposures which may affect children as adults include:
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reported that from 1998 to 2007, a total of 5719 younger workers died from occupational injuries and an estimated 7.9 million non-fatal injuries to younger workers were serious enough for the individuals to have to go to the emergency room of a hospital. (See endnote 47.)
Best Practices for the Occupational Environment (See endnote 49)
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