Burden of Disease from Occupational Exposures

Part of the Environmental Science and Technology Library book series (ENST, volume 24)


Workers may be exposed to physical, chemical, and biological hazards at work that may lead to occupational illness. Hazardous substance exposure routes include dermal and inhalation exposure and ingestion. Families of workers also can face risks from toxic substances brought home on contaminated work clothes or vehicles. This chapter estimates occupational exposures to harmful chemicals and noise in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and calculates the burden of disease related to selected occupational hazards. Occupational health studies conducted in the UAE have revealed unsafe work practices and unhealthy working conditions in many industry sectors, but the majority of UAE workers who are potentially exposed to hazardous substances and noise are employed in construction, agriculture, or manufacturing. The exposures covered in this study were selected following the approach by the World Health Organization, covering common occupational carcinogens, occupational airborne particulates, and noise, excluding occupational injuries and ergonomic stressors. The estimated total number of annual deaths due to health outcomes included in this study is 47, and the total number of health-care facility visits is 17,160. In addition, the model estimates that 4,770 cases of noise-induced hearing loss occur due to occupational exposures each year. Of the health outcomes covered in the study, lung cancer and leukemia were responsible for the highest number of deaths (25 and 12, respectively). For health-care facility visits, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease contributed most to the disease burden with 11,854 and 5,012 visits, respectively. It is likely that the UAE could reduce the amount it spends on medical care by reducing exposure to respiratory irritants, carcinogens, and noise in workplaces. These numbers should not be considered to represent the total disease burden arising from all occupational exposures. Many prevalent occupational hazards, such as injuries and ergonomic stressors, were excluded because this study focuses on health risks due to releases of hazardous physical, chemical, and biological agents into the environment as a result of human activities.


Occupational exposures Environmental burden of disease Relative risk Attributable fraction Premature deaths and health-care facility visits United Arab Emirates Occupational hygiene monitoring Personal protective equipment Pneumoconioses Malignant mesothelioma Asthma Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Noise-induced hearing loss Occupational carcinogens Occupational airborne particulate matter Occupational exposure to noise 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Gillings School of Global Public HealthUniversity of North Carolina–Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Environment Agency–Abu DhabiAbu DhabiUnited Arab Emirates
  3. 3.Health Authority–Abu DhabiAbu DhabiUnited Arab Emirates

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