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Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e318216d471
Original Articles

An Investigation of Aircraft Worker Anemia: Medical Surveillance Interpretation in an Aging Workforce

Muller, John MD, MPH; Allstadt, Karen MD, MPH; Rennix, Christopher ScD, MS; Betts, Lawrence MD, PhD; Krevonick, Patricia BS; Hammett, Mark MD, MPH

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Abstract

Objective: To identify exposures possibly contributing to anemia cases among hexavalent chromium medical surveillance program enrollees.

Methods: An investigation encompassed metals surveillance programs, extensive workplace sampling and remediation, consultation, evaluation of laboratory accuracy, and follow-up of anemic individuals.

Results: Workers had underlying medical conditions that affected surveillance results. There was a systemic error in classification based on hematocrit value. The prevalence of anemia in a workforce averaging 52 years old was 16%.

Conclusions: Anemia may be more prevalent in middle-aged workers than expected. Modern laboratories generally report a calculated hematocrit value, and using hemoglobin for most classification purposes is preferred. Characteristics of a specific workforce, including age, health, hobbies, and diet, should be taken into account when interpreting medical surveillance program findings. The value of a team approach in addressing occupational health problems was demonstrated.

©2011The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

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