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Importance of taking environmental exposure histories.

Oregon Worker Illness and Injury Prevention Program
Putting Data to Work. Portland, OR: Oregon Department of Human Services, 2006 Sep; :1-4
Many environmental and occupational diseases manifest as common medical problems or have nonspecific symptoms (as in these cases). By taking a thorough exposure history, the health care provider (HCP) can play a vital role in detecting, treating, and even preventing disease that is due to toxic exposure. Etiology will distinguish a disorder as an environmental illness; thus, if a thorough exposure history is not undertaken by the HCP, the etiologic diagnosis may be missed, treatment may be inappropriate, or exposure could continue. The case studies described above highlight the importance of a thorough environmental exposure history as well as prompt notification of the health department. For example, because lead is a reportable condition in Oregon [Case 1], additional toy medallions were tested (in other areas of the state), leading to their voluntary recall by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in September 2003. For Case 2, the linkage of occupational exposures in the flavorings industries to the lung disease bronchiolitis obliterans led to the study of the risk of exposure to diacetyl (2,3-butanedione), a commonly used food flavoring. It further resulted in the NIOSH alert "Preventing Lung Disease in Workers Who Use or Make Flavorings".
Injury-prevention; Safety-education; Risk-analysis; Environmental-exposure; Environmental-health-monitoring; Occupational-hazards; Medical-screening; Medical-monitoring; Medical-examinations; Medical-care; Exposure-assessment
Oregon Department of Human Services, Public Health Division, Office of Environmental Public Health Toxicology, Assessment & Tracking Services Section (TATS), 800 NE Oregon Street #640 Portland, OR 97232
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Cooperative Agreement
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Putting Data to Work
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Public Health Services, Portland, Oregon
Page last reviewed: December 11, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division