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Dose-response relation for vascular disorders induced by vibration in the fingers of forestry workers.
  1. M Bovenzi,
  2. A Franzinelli,
  3. R Mancini,
  4. M G Cannavà,
  5. M Maiorano,
  6. F Ceccarelli
  1. Institute of Occupational Health, University of Trieste, Italy.

    Abstract

    OBJECTIVES--To study the relation between the prevalence of vascular disorders (white finger) and vibration exposure in a group of 222 forestry workers, of whom 164 (73.9%) had work experience limited to antivibration (AV) chain saws only and 58 (26.1%) had operated both non-AV and AV chain saws. METHODS--The chain saw operators and 195 control workers never exposed to hand transmitted vibration were interviewed with health and workplace assessment questionnaires. The diagnosis of vibration induced white finger (VWF) was made on the basis of subjective symptoms of finger blanching and the results of a cold test with plethysmographic measurement of systolic blood pressure of the finger. Vibration was measured on a representative sample of AV and non-AV chain saws. Daily vibration exposure was assessed as eight hour energy equivalent frequency weighted acceleration (A(8)). A lifetime vibration dose was estimated for each of the forestry workers. RESULTS--The overall prevalence of VWF among the forestry workers was 23.4%. The diagnosis of VWF was made in 13.4% of the forestry workers who handled only AV chain saws and in 51.7% of those who had also operated non-AV chain saws in the past. Raynaud's phenomenon was found in 2.6% of the controls. In the forestry workers, the risk for VWF showed positive increments with each increment of vibration dose, suggesting a monotonic dose-response relation. The responsiveness to cold in the digital arteries of the forestry workers was also found to increase with increasing vibration dose and severity of VWF. The estimated relation between VWF and vibration exposure showed that the expected prevalence of VWF increased almost linearly to either A(8) (with exposure duration unchanged) or the number of years of exposure (with equivalent acceleration unchanged). CONCLUSIONS--In this study of VWF among forestry workers, the estimated dose-response relation showed that if the magnitude of vibration acceleration is doubled, the total duration of exposure should be halved to produce an equivalent effect. On the basis of the assessment of vibration exposure, the estimated risk for VWF in the study population was found to be lower than that predicted by the international standard ISO 5349. These findings suggest a revision of the risk estimates for VWF currently provided by ISO 5349.

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