Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology Principles

Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology Principles

Emmanouil G. Velonakis (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7635-8.ch007


Occupational epidemiology studies the distribution of health events and health related determinants and its relation to the working environment. Environmental epidemiology focuses on the involuntary exposure to physical and chemical factors in the indoor or outdoor environment that may affect health patterns. Occupational and environmental epidemiology use similar methodology although the conditions differ. The environmental epidemiology studies beyond the health effect of exposure to specific environmental factors and must consider the long-term impact of the ecosystems to nearby populations. Molecular technologies allow the detection of effects at the molecular level originated by very low levels of exposure. The concept of an exposome is a kind of database with information concerning environmental exposure measurements in a life time and corresponding biomarkers concentrations in different biospeciments, considering internal individual genetic characteristics.
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Occupational / Environmental Factors And Health Outcomes: Methods Used And Challenges

Occupational and environmental epidemiology associate exposure to health effects. They need therefore data related to health effects and data related to exposure to potential hazards. Health effects concern exposed population and their descendants. They also concern no exposed populations to examine the extent to which observed rates differ significantly between exposed and no exposed.

Health Data

Health data, referring to events by time, place and person, are (CDC, 2012):

  • Incidence of diseases: Rate of new cases to the population during a period. It is interpreted as the risk for a new outcome.

  • Prevalence of diseases: Rate of existing cases to the population at a moment of time. It describes the probability of an existing outcome in a population at a point in time

  • General mortality and mortality by specific causes as indirect indices of diseases incidence.

  • Birth outcomes, including fertility and infertility, premature birth, perinatal mortality, birthweight, sex ratio.

  • Biological indices that may show either even minor health effect or indicate that the exposure exceeds allowed levels.

Some of the above rates, like mortality are retrieved from civil registries. They also may be retrieved from specific registries for example cancer, infectious diseases registries, or by the health surveillance of a population at risk. The biological indices come from the health surveillance of the population and relevant monitoring (Solomon et al., 1991; Public Health Information Systems, 2017).

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