Hispanic/Latino workers exposed to organic solvents are more likely to have high blood pressure, according to a study in the November Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Other elements of metabolic syndrome- a cluster of risk factors linked to increased cardiovascular disease risk- are unrelated to occupational exposure to solvents, metals, or pesticides, suggests the new research by Maria Argos, PhD, of University of Illinois at Chicago and colleagues.
The researchers analyzed data on more than 7,000 employed Hispanic/Latino adults in four US cities. Subjects were asked about on-the-job exposure to solvents, metals, and pesticides.
These exposures were analyzed for links to metabolic syndrome. More than one-fourth of the workers (27.6 percent) had metabolic syndrome, based on the presence of at least three out of five risk factors: abdominal obesity, high triglycerides, low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high glucose.
About six percent of workers were exposed to organic solvents, and this group was more likely to have high blood pressure. After adjustment for other factors, the prevalence of high blood pressure was 32 percent higher in solvent-exposed workers.
Solvent exposure was unrelated to the other four metabolic syndrome risk factors. None of the five risks was related to occupational exposure to metals or pesticides.
Organic solvents are used extensively in many products and industries. Occupations with high rates of solvent exposure in the study included construction laborers, maintenance and repair workers, and maids and housekeeping cleaners.
The Hispanic/Latino population is the largest and fastest-growing minority group in the United States. Hispanic/Latino workers, especially foreign-born, may be especially vulnerable to occupational hazards.
Although the study focuses on one racial/ethnic group, Dr. Argos and colleagues note that it is the first to evaluate the relationship between solvent exposure and cardiometabolic health in US workers. While confirmatory studies are needed, the findings suggest that solvents “may be important risk factors for high blood pressure among American workers.”