Occupational Toxic Hepatitis

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This health presentation was carried on OHA (Occupational Health Awareness) Program 2 Aug 2014.

  • Definition Hepatitis : An infection on liver parenchyma that could induced liver damage and lowering liver function.
  • Causes of Hepatitis : Occupational Hepatitis (Toxic Hepatitis, Viral Hepatitis) and Non Occupational Hepatitis (Viral, Alcohol and Auto Immune)



  • Definition : is any acute or sub-acute necrosis of the liver or other unspecified chemical hepatitis caused by exposure to non-medicinal toxic agents other than ethyl alcohol, including, but not limited to, carbon tetrachloride, chloroform, tetrachloroethane, trichloroethylene, phosphorus, TNT, chloronapthalenes, methylenedianilines, ethylene dibromide, and organic solvents.
  • The source of exposure : In an occupational setting, toxic hepatitis can occur when workers are exposed to industrial chemicals capable of causing liver damage.  Chemical spills, improper ventilation, confined spaces, or the lack of adequate skin and respiratory protective measures may increase the risk of exposure above safe limits.  Underlying health problems, age, the use of alcohol, and some types of pain relievers, prescription medications, herbal supplements or other over the counter products can also increase a worker’s risk of developing liver damage when exposed to industrial chemicals.
  • Population at risk : Most statistics on toxic hepatitis combine the numbers for toxic hepatitis caused by drugs and toxic hepatitis caused by exposure to chemicals.
  • Dignosis, Treatment and Prognosis : Diagnosis of toxic hepatitis caused by chemical exposure requires a thorough assessment of the patient, including clinical signs and symptoms, laboratory testing, an exposure history, and possible liver imaging and biopsy. Some of these tests are used to rule out other types of hepatitis. The medical provider must pay close attention to the environmental and occupational exposures to chemicals of each patient as well as all drugs used (prescribed or over the counter ones, including herbal remedies).  Some forms of chemical liver injury will occur within hours, days, or weeks of exposure; however, sometimes it takes months of regular exposure to a chemical or ingestion of a drug before liver injury becomes apparent.  Workers known to have regular exposure to potentially damaging chemicals should be routinely screened.
  • Prevention of Exposure : People who work with or use hazardous chemicals should be trained regarding the risks, and should take all necessary precautions to protect themselves from exposure. Safety Data Sheets (SDS – formerly called Material Safety Data Sheets or MSDS) can provide information about personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements, first aid, and exposure risks. If workers do come in contact with a harmful substance, they should follow the guidelines established in their workplace, and call the local emergency services for help as needed.

References :

  • Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)
  • NIOSH Chemical Safety
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occupational hepatitis toxic hepatitis


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