Styrene-associated health outcomes at a windblade manufacturing plant
Background Health risks of using styrene to manufacture windblades for the green energy sector are unknown.
Methods Using data collected from 355 (73%) current windblade workers and regression analysis, we investigated associations between health outcomes and styrene exposure estimates derived from urinary styrene metabolites.
Results The median current styrene exposure was 53.6 mg/g creatinine (interquartile range: 19.5–94.4). Color blindness in men and women (standardized morbidity ratios 2.3 and 16.6, respectively) was not associated with exposure estimates, but was the type previously reported with styrene. Visual contrast sensitivity decreased and chest tightness increased (odds ratio 2.9) with increasing current exposure. Decreases in spirometric parameters and FeNO, and increases in the odds of wheeze and asthma-like symptoms (odds ratios 1.3 and 1.2, respectively) occurred with increasing cumulative exposure.
Conclusions Despite styrene exposures below the recommended 400 mg/g creatinine, visual and respiratory effects indicate the need for additional preventative measures in this industry.