The IRSST just published a report entitled Thermal Stress and Chemicals – Knowledge Review and the Highest Risk Occupations in Québec. Exposure to cold or heat triggers a series of compensatory physiological responses enabling the human body to maintain its internal temperature despite thermal stress. These thermoregulation mechanisms are well documented and the resulting physiological changes can modify organ functions related to the absorption and metabolism of chemical substances.
Pharmacological and epidemiological studies report an increase in the absorption and effects of certain drugs, and higher human mortality associated with air pollution, on simultaneous exposure to heat and xenobiotics. Extrapolation of these data to occupational health suggests that concurrent exposure to thermal stress and chemical substances is likely to increase the absorption and effects of some xenobiotics.
The primary objective of this research was to survey all data published in recent scientific literature. The second objective was to identify Quebec workers exposed to chemical substances who might be the most affected by thermal stress. Careful attention was given to the presence of chemical substances likely to affect thermoregulation mechanisms.
By identifying higher-risk occupations, this report will help guide occupational health professionals in assessing risk in cases of simultaneous exposure to thermal stress and chemical substances.