Assessing homogeneity in workplace exposure under stationary and non-stationary scenarios

Silvia I Maberti, The University of Texas School of Public Health


In most epidemiological studies, historical monitoring data are scant and must be pooled to identify occupational groups with homogeneous exposures. Homogeneity of exposure is generally assessed in a group of workers who share a common job title or work in a common area. While published results suggest that the degree of homogeneity varies widely across job groups, less is known whether such variation differs across industrial sectors, classes of contaminants, or in the methods used to group workers. Relying upon a compilation of results presented in the literature, patterns of homogeneity among nearly 500 occupational groups of workers were evaluated on the basis of type of industry and agent. Additionally, effects of the characteristics of the sampling strategy on estimated indicators of homogeneity of exposure were assessed. Exposure profiles for occupational groups of workers have typically been assessed under the assumption of stationarity, i.e., the mean exposure level and variance of the distribution that describes the underlying population of exposures are constant over time. Yet, the literature has shown that occupational exposures have declined in the last decades. This renders traditional methods for the description of exposure profiles inadequate. Thus, work was needed to develop appropriate methods to assess homogeneity for groups of workers whose exposures have changed over time. A study was carried out applying mixed effects models with a term for temporal trend to appropriately describe exposure profiles of groups of workers in the nickel-producing industry over a 20-year period. Using a sub-set of groups of nickel-exposed workers, another study was conducted to develop and apply a framework to evaluate the assumption of stationarity of the variances in the presence of systematic changes in exposure levels over time.

Subject Area

Environmental science|Occupational safety

Recommended Citation

Maberti, Silvia I, "Assessing homogeneity in workplace exposure under stationary and non-stationary scenarios" (2005). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3182108.