Objectives Knowledge of historical exposures conditions in the workplace plays an important role in occupational health. Several countries have built databases of occupational hygiene measurements from prevention or compliance activities conducted over the years. The aim of this work was to describe the contents of two French databanks, COLCHIC and SCOLA, started respectively in 1987 and 2007.
Methods COLCHIC data results from prevention activities conducted by hygienists from laboratories related to governmental occupational health insurance. Its initial aims included, among others, support for epidemiological studies and implementation of prevention policies. On the other hand, SCOLA was created to store data collected in the context of mandatory verification of compliance to legal occupational exposure limits in France. Despite different objectives, COLCHIC and SCOLA share the same structure. Ancillary information includes industry, occupation, task, local and general ventilation, as well as representativeness and sampling strategies. Extracts from these two databases were obtained for the period until November 2012.
Results COLCHIC and SCOLA contain respectively 830 000 and 119 000 records. Data in COLCHIC cover 40 substances with more 4 000 measurements, 48 607 sampling visits in 24 520 factories. Data in SCOLA include 11 substances with more 1 000 measurements, 33075 sampling visits in 4384 factories. The 5 most frequent substances in COLCHIC are respirable dust (62876), toluene (31766), acetone (28763), lead (24614), xylene (21768). The 5 most frequent substances in SCOLA are asbestos (63886), wood dust (12625), crystalline silicate (4353), lead (3135) and toluene (2505). The main industrial activities in both databanks are manufacturing, construction, and waste management and remediation.
Conclusions COLCHIC and SCOLA both represent important sources of information on occupational exposures. However they do not result from probabilistic sampling and their representativeness of historical exposure in France is unknown.
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