Workplace Chemical Hazards & Heart Disease

What occupational risk factors contribute to cardiovascular disease?

A lot of research and public awareness has been done on lifestyle habits that contribute to cardiovascular disease. We are now beginning to understand how occupational risk factors contribute to cardiovascular disease as well. Occupational exposure to certain chemicals that target the heart and cardiovascular system can be a risk factor to developing heart disease and stroke. Understanding your risk is key to prevention.

What Are the Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease?

The more risk factors you have, and the greater the degree of each risk factor, the higher your chance of developing cardiovascular disease. Below in purple we have listed non preventable risk factors that you cannot change and in blue we have listed preventable risk factors you can change. Two other preventable risk factors not listed in your control are stress and alcohol consumption.

Risk Factors Contributing to Cardiovascular Disease

What are the Occupational Hazards the Contribute to Cardiovascular Disease?

We all spend many hours at the workplace and as a result where you work can affect your heart health. Past studies indicate there are multiple occupational hazards that can contribute to cardiovascular disease including:  

  • Working in extreme heat or cold 
  • Shift work 
  • High levels of occupational noise 
  • Sitting  
  • Workplace stress  
  • Chemical exposures 

How do chemicals affect the heart?

There are many chemicals in the workplace that can contribute to the onset of Cardiovascular Disease.  Any chemical that enters the body also eventually enters the bloodstream and will come into contact with the heart because the heart processes all the blood in the body. A growing body of research explores occupational exposure to certain chemicals and the effect on Cardiovascular disease. There is evidence that exposure to certain chemical substances in the workplace correlates with heart disease, pulmonary heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.

Reading the Safety Data Sheet for the chemicals you work with and understanding the hazards you are working with is an important step in prevention.

Chemical Solvents & Heart Disease

An example of a common chemical that affects the cardiovascular system are solvents.  

Solvents are commonly found in painting and chemical manufacturing industries and have been associated with atrial or ventricular abnormal heart rhythm. Numerous cases of sudden death in relation to high level solvent exposure have been reported.   

Carbon Disulfide is another solvent used in manufacturing and used as a direct solvent.  It can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin.  Exposure can result in hypertension, decreased ability to break down blood clots, or negative heart muscle contractions.