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Medichem Newsletter November 20005

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Medichem on the Internet: http://www.medichem.

org.au

Thanks to the efforts of Chairman Noel Humphry and above all his secretary Kerry Campbell, Medichem's internet site is now fully operational. Please visit us at http://medichem.org.au.

Building an internet site is an ongoing task. Your input is needed and appreciated and will help make this site better. Send your comments, contributions and proposals to kcampbell@dow.com.

Dr. Andreas Flückiger, Basel (Switzerland)

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Radon and Lung Cancer

In June of this year, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection of the Federal Republic of Germany published a case control study on lung cancer among the former uranium miners in Eastern Germany. It is not generally known that East Germany was the main supplier for the former USSR of uranium for their nuclear industry, both military and civilian. Between 1946 and 1989, about half a million individuals were employed as so-called "bismuth workers" in the uranium mines where they were exposed to high concentrations of radon and its decay products.

Presently, about 7000 ex-bismuth workers suffer from lung cancer and 300 new cases are diagnosed every year.

Details on this occupational health disaster were also reported at the 1998 Medichem Congress in Cape Town by

Medichem member Dr. Gerd Enderle of the University of Ulm. (from "Deutsches Aerzteblatt", 97 (2000)/ issue 37, Sept. 15, 2000)

Sent in by

Prof. Dr. Alfred M. Thiess, Ludwigshafen-Oggersheim (Germany)

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Sweden: Sharp Upswing in Work-Related Illnesses – Stress Kills

According to figures published by the National Board of Occupational Safety and Health, the number of cases of occupational illness in Sweden rose by 50% between 1997 and 1999, reaching a total of 19,000.

Illnesses caused by stress and mental strain increased most, as much as 70% in men and 50% in men from 1998 to 1999 alone. However, musculo-skeletal disorders are still the largest group.

The University Hospital of Malmö examined a total of 32,000 men and 11,000 women from Malmö through a register of causes of death. The study is based on a survey carried out in the 1970s when these people were in the 40 to 50 age group. 2300 of them died between the ages of 60 and 70.

Stressful living conditions were identified as a clear risk factor for early death. The authors conclude that sleep deprivation and high resting pulse rate speed up the ageing process and can shorten life by 10 to 15 years. Men are affected more often than women. For men, the risk increases by a factor of 2.5 against 0.5 for women.

(from the Newsletter of the Swedish Joint Industrial Safety Council, Issue 3, Sept. 2000)

Dr. Andreas Flückiger, Basel (Switzerland)

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Women More Sensitive to Solvents

Women appear to be affected by solvents more than men, according to a study by the Swedish National Institute for Work Life. 28 men and 28 women were exposed to xylene and isopropanol.

The acute symptoms included the women becoming more tired than men and reacting with a decreased lung function when exposed to xylene. Colour vision was affected more by isopropanol. Women showed more nasal swelling than men. The authors emphasise that the effects of long-term exposure are still not clear. They state that to date, chemical hazards have been almost exclusively assessed for men. A new study by the same Swedish team examines the way solvents are absorbed and spread in the bodies of both women and men. Differences in height, weight and body fat will be taken into account.

(from the Newsletter of the Swedish Joint Industrial Safety Council, Issue 3, Sept. 2000)

Dr. Andreas Flückiger, Basel (Switzerland)

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Internet Symposium on Medical Aspects of Chemical Safety

Medichem members might be interested in some of the presentations of the Internet Symposium "Medical Aspects of Chemical Safety", organised by the Research Institute of Hygiene and Occupational Pathology in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. The presentations were prepared by scientists from this Institute and

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