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Decreasing irritation symptoms by replacing partially coated acoustic glass wool boards with fully coated boards

Author(s): Eero Palomäki | Jukka Uitti | Pauliina Virtema | Risto Voutilainen | Leena Heinijoki | Aslak Savolainen

Journal: SJWEH Supplements
ISSN 1795-9926

Issue: 4;
Start page: 64;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Keywords: acoustics | manmade mineral fibers | synthetic vitreous fibers | irritation symptom | partially coated acoustic glass wool board | acoustic glass wool board | fully coated acoustic glass wool board | glass wool | acoustic ceiling board

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to assess the effects of eliminating the potential main fiber source (ceiling boards) in an office environment on exposure to synthetic vitreous fibers (SVF) and the prevalence of different symptoms among office workers. METHODS: In the intervention, partially coated acoustic ceiling boards were replaced with totally coated boards on one floor of an office building. The intervention group consisted of 32 employees working on the floor with the replaced ceiling boards. The reference group (N=34) comprised office workers on another floor, where no such changes had been made. Both groups filled out baseline and follow-up questionnaires and underwent nasal lavage. SVF were collected from samples of settled dust on office surfaces and analyzed using stereomicroscopy. Standardized questionnaires and nasal lavage were analyzed before and after the intervention. Follow-up with a questionnaire was also carried out 3 years later. RESULTS: Reported eye, nasal, and facial skin symptoms decreased in the intervention group, but not in the reference group, during the 3 years of follow-up. CONCLUSIONS: The findings of this intervention support the suspicion that SVF originating from acoustic materials made of partially covered glass fibers may cause the sensation of dry air and mucosal, respiratory, and skin symptoms among office workers. If SVF exist in the dust settled on surfaces in an office, the elimination of the SVF source should be an effective way of decreasing irritation symptoms. The findings also show that intense cleaning is an effective way to reduce symptoms.
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