Work-related exposure to harmful substances in circular economy – HAKiTa
The research project examines the exposure of employees to harmful chemical and biological substances in work related to the recycling of construction waste, electrical and electronic waste and textiles. In addition, the health risks associated with the above-mentioned work will be investigated. The aim is to protect the health of employees and to improve the risk management of exposure to health hazards. This will ensure the sustainable management of recyclable waste and increase the operating conditions and productivity of companies in circular economy.
Based on the information obtained in the study, we will produce guidelines and good practices for improving the safety of circular economy operators.
Materials and techniques
In particular, the study focuses on substances that are known to be hazardous to health and currently banned from use or restricted but may be present in older materials planned to be recycled. Previously, significant concentrations of dust, lead, nickel, manganese and cobalt as well as several flame retardants and phthalates have been measured in the recycling work of electrical and electronic waste in Finland. There is also a need for research data on exposure to substances suspected of causing health hazards, such as microbes and toxins secreted by microbes in the recycling of demolition and textile waste.
The aim of the research project is to obtain new information on the hazardous substances and quantities to which employees may be exposed today. In addition, we will assess whether current safety and monitoring measures in companies can protect employees from exposure that is harmful to health. The research methods include occupational hygiene measurements, biomonitoring of employees by means of urine and blood samples and toxicological risk assessment.
The study will be carried out by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. The project involves Finnish target companies from different sectors of circular economy.
Selma Mahiout, Tiina Santonen, Sirpa Laitinen, Tiina Rantio
The Finnish Work Environment Fund and Finnish Institute of Occupational Health