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Fatal poisoning and other health hazards connected with industrial fishing
  1. J. B. Dalgaard,
  2. F. Dencker,
  3. B. Fallentin,
  4. P. Hansen,
  5. B. Kaempe,
  6. J. Steensberg1,
  7. P. Wilhardt
  1. National Health Service of Denmark, Institute of Forensic Medicine, University of Arhus, Denmark
  2. State Institute of Industrial Hygiene, Gentofte, Denmark
  3. Technological Laboratory, Ministry of Fisheries, Lyngby, Denmark


    Dalgaard, J. B., Dencker, F., Fallentin, B., Hansen, P., Kaempe, B., Steensberg, J., and Wilhardt, P. (1972).Brit. J. industr. Med.,29, 307-316. Fatal poisoning and other health hazards connected with industrial fishing. The literature about death and health problems related to work with fish for industrial use is reviewed. Three fatal cases and several instances of unconsciousness or cases of fainting are reported. An investigation was carried out into the composition of the air in the holds and forecastles of Danish industrial-fishing cutters on their arrival at port. The laboratory procedures are described, and the results are reported. In several instances the low concentrations of oxygen and/or high concentrations of carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide found were considered to be hazardous to life. The fatalities and sudden loss of consciousness in the reported cases are ascribed to these changes, hypoxia and hypercapnia being the most important causes. The risk of poisoning seems to be greatest during the landing of trash-fish and in fish-meal plants. Persons under the influence of alcohol may, for one reason or another, be particularly susceptible.

    The most important preventive measure is improvement of the quality of the raw material which would also reduce the nuisance from smell. Two safety belts with ropes should be provided in the vessels and close to the pits in the fish-meal plants. Fishermen should leave the vessel after arrival in port and not return until after unloading has been completed. During unloading and in the factories, effective mechanical ventilation is essential. Apparatus to monitor the concentrations of oxygen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide, and ammonia should be available in the fishing ports, and cases of accident, including mere `faintings', should be subjected to prompt medical and technical investigation.

    From the occupational medical aspect, fishermen are in a less satisfactory situation than workers on shore. An occupational health service, including pre-employment and periodic examinations of personnel and working conditions, is recommended.

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