Jean Cox-Ganser, Ph.D. -NIOSH, Div. Respiratory Disease Studies {FLASHBACK FRIDAY – EPISODE 228 |12-9-2011}

Air Date: 6-17-2016| Episode: 418

This week IAQ Radio will be flashing back to December 9, 2011 for a show we did with Jean Cox-Ganser, Ph.D. Dr. Cox-Ganser is the Research Team leader for the Field Studies Branch, Division of Respiratory Disease Studies, NIOSH…

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This week IAQ Radio will be flashing back to December 9, 2011 for a show we did with Jean Cox-Ganser, Ph.D. Dr. Cox-Ganser is the Research Team leader for the Field Studies Branch, Division of Respiratory Disease Studies, NIOSH.  For the past 15 years she has been a principal investigator for research studies on the respiratory health effects of dampness and mold in office buildings and schools, and is author or co-author on over 20 peer-reviewed publications, book chapters and reports resulting from this research. From 2002-2005 she was Team leader of the NIOSH National Occupational Research Agenda Indoor Environment Team.  In 2009-2010 she was a member of the International Scientific committee for ASHRAE’s IAQ 2010 Conference – Airborne Infection Control – Ventilation, IAQ and Energy, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She was also a member of the Conference Scientific advisory group for the 6th International Scientific Conference on Bioaerosols, Fungi, Bacteria, Mycotoxins in Indoor and Outdoor Environments and Human Health, September 6-9, 2011 – Saratoga Springs, New York.

Joes Blog:

The NIOSH Division of Respiratory Disease Studies is in Morgantown West Virginia.  Their division has about 80 people. Their focus is on occupational respiratory diseases.  There is a Surveillance Branch and a Field Studies Branch
The division has a number of mechanisms for determining what studies are undertaken. Because they are part of the federal government workers, unions or employers may request help from NIOSH thru the Health Hazard Evaluation Program, and they get a lot of indoor air quality requests through this program.

About half of requests are related to IAQ.

Dr. Cox-Ganser was in part interested in occupational health because her grandfather who lived in South Africa was a printer and he passed away from lead exposure.

Morbidity is the health effects because of the Illness, and is not related to death.

She lets the data tell the story, doesn’t really get surprised by the results that she sees.

Some of the studies that her division has done work on is the bronchiolitis obliterans a very severe lung disease related to exposure to artificial butter flavors.  Some may be familiar with popcorn lung. They are now using substitutes for the diacetyl which may have other health effects.

For cutting fluids contaminated with fungi what they have seen is Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis.   This occurs with unusual contamination with fungi and NTB mycobacterium of water or semi-water based fluids in for instance the auto industry.

Unless one has a lot of money and many, many samples it is difficult to get a true mold exposure via air samples.  They have moved toward using settled dust in carpets. They feel it may be almost like an aggregate capturing a more historical picture of what has been in the air.

Tips on microbial investigations:

-First look at the objectives of the investigation

-When dealing with mold investigations don’t necessarily use air samples.

-Survey the occupants about increased prevalence or clusters in different parts of the building.

-Most important is a really good observational assessment and looking for signs of mold growth, odors, -dampness and other signs of mold growth.

With respect to microbial issues the biggest trend is movement toward dust sampling.

NIOSH did a study of work environment with soy cake manufacturing plant and found asthma like health outcomes.

Culturable sampling still has uses and the research has shown that work over the last decades shows consistent relationships between respiratory health symptoms and total culturable fungi.

“Healthy Survivor Effect” some studies may be biased by the fact that some of the most sensitive people have already left the building.

In one study people who left the building did not necessarily show improvement and those moved to other parts of the building did show some signs of improvement although some other studies show that when people leave they do improve.

They had one Health Hazard Evaluation that showed that after remediation on a health questionnaire which seemed to indicate the remediation worked pretty well.

There is a lack in the literature of work of this sort. Some Scandinavian research shows remediation may show a decrease in symptoms although it’s not always clear and sometimes those with asthma do not always improve.

Disaster restoration workers research on health issues with these folks. Not aware of much in the literature about that.

This show continues to be one of my favorites.

Signing off,

Radio Joe