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Comparing company-based and self-reported estimates of duration and intensity of occupational fumigant exposure.

Calvert-G; Mueller-C; O'Neill-V; Fajen-J; Fleming-I; Briggle-T
Am J Epidemiol 1996 Jun; 143(11)(Suppl):S18
As part of a cross-sectional medical study of structural fumigation workers, self reported work history information was collected on both intensity and duration of exposure using an interviewer-administered questionnaire. All company records available on these workers were also collected. Although 81 different structural fumigation companies were identified by study participants as current or former employers, only 15 of these companies had records suitable for assessing the self-reported work histories. These 15 companies employed 32 of the 123 participating fumigation workers. The exposure information provided by the 32 workers was compared to information obtained from company records. For the time period consisting of the two weeks preceding the worker's examination, we found agreement between the self-reported and company work history information with respect to daily activities and fumigant usage, but not for estimates of total days worked over this time period. We also found agreement between the self-reports and company records for total years of employment in the fumigation industry. We were unsuccessful in our objective to use self-reported work history information to create a single exposure measure that unified both intensity and duration information. All such unifying measures required the use of the total days worked estimate, an estimate which we found to have poor agreement between self-reported and company data. In conclusion, our findings demonstrate the usefulness of comparing self-reported and company-based work history information to identify the appropriate exposure measures to be used in the analyses of the outcome data. However, our experience demonstrates the difficulty in undertaking these exposure comparisons in an industry consisting of many small, independent companies, especially when work history records are poorly maintained by those companies. Because other industries also consist of many small, independent companies (e.g. dry cleaning), similar difficulties with assessing exposures may be experienced by investigators studying these industries.
Monitoring-systems; Air-quality-measurement; Respiratory-hypersensitivity; Respiratory-irritants; Respiratory-system-disorders; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Fumigants; Occupational-exposure; Occupational-hazards; Occupational-health; Questionnaires
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Fiels Studies, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45226
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American Journal of Epidemiology
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division