Presumed exposure to chemical pollutants and experienced health impacts among warehouse workers at logistics companies: A cross-sectional survey

Szabolcs Lovas, Károly Nagy, János Sándor, Balázs Ádám

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

During intercontinental shipping, freight containers and other closed transport devices are applied. These closed spaces can be polluted with various harmful chemicals that may accumulate in poorly ventilated environments. The major pollutants are residues of pesticides used for fumigation as well as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released from the goods. While handling cargos at logistics companies, workers can be exposed to these pollutants, frequently without adequate occupational health and safety precautions. A cross-sectional questionnaire survey was conducted among potentially exposed warehouse workers and office workers as controls at Hungarian logistics companies (1) to investigate the health effects of chemical pollutants occurring in closed spaces of transportation and storage and (2) to collect information about the knowledge of and attitude toward workplace chemical exposures as well as the occupational health and safety precautions applied. Pre-existing medical conditions did not show any significant difference between the working groups. Numbness or heaviness in the arms and legs (AOR = 3.99; 95% CI = 1.72–9.26) and dry cough (AOR = 2.32; 95% CI = 1.09–4.93) were significantly associated with working in closed environments of transportation and storage, while forgetfulness (AOR = 0.40; 95% CI = 0.18–0.87), sleep disturbances (AOR = 0.36; 95% CI = 0.17–0.78), and tiredness after waking up (AOR = 0.40; 95% CI = 0.20–0.79) were significantly associated with employment in office. Warehouse workers who completed specific workplace health and safety training had more detailed knowledge related to this workplace chemical issue (AOR = 8.18; 95% CI = 3.47–19.27), and they were significantly more likely to use certain preventive measures. Warehouse workers involved in handling cargos at logistics companies may be exposed to different chemical pollutants, and the related health risks remain unknown if the presence of these chemicals is not recognized. Applied occupational health and safety measures at logistics companies are not adequate enough to manage this chemical safety issue, which warrants awareness raising and the introduction of effective preventive strategies to protect workers’ health at logistics companies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7052
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume18
Issue number13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2021

Keywords

  • Chemical pollutant
  • Freight container
  • Logistics
  • Pesticide
  • Volatile organic compound
  • Warehouse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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