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Exposure-response relation for vibration-induced white finger: effect of different methods for predicting prevalence.

A pooled analysis of vibration-induced white finger (VWF) in population groups of workers has been performed using the results of a published meta-analysis as source material (Nilsson T, Wahlström J, Burström L. Hand-arm vibration and the risk of vascular and neurological diseases a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2017:12(7):e0180795. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0180795). The methods of data selection follow those described previously by Scholz et al. (in Scholz MF, Brammer AJ, Marburg S. Exposure-response relation for vibration-induced white finger: inferences from a published meta-analysis of population groups. Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2023a:96(5):757-770. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-023-01965-w) to enable comparison with the results of the present work. The analyzed epidemiologic studies contain different prevalences of VWF observed after different durations of employment involving exposure to the vibration of power tools and machines. These prevalences are transformed to 10% prevalence by either linear or polynomial (i.e. "S"-shaped curvilinear) interpolation in order to compare with the exposure-response relation contained in the relevant international standard (ISO 5349-1:2001). An exposure-response relation is constructed using regression analysis for the time (in years) to reach 10% prevalence in a population group, when subjected to a daily vibration exposure calculated according to the procedures specified in the standard, A(8). Good fits to the data are obtained when polynomial and linear prevalence interpolation is used. The 95-percentile confidence intervals (CIs) of the exposure-response relation predicted by polynomial prevalence interpolation lie at somewhat larger lifetime exposures than those obtained by linear prevalence interpolation. Uncertainty in the precision of polynomial prevalence interpolation is mitigated by giving equal weight to linear interpolation when interpreting the results. When the 95-percentile CIs of the exposure-response models obtained by linear and polynomial prevalence interpolation are used to define the most probable exposure-response relation, the resulting common range of values includes the ISO exposure-response relation. It is proposed that an exposure-response relation for the onset of VWF derived from a regression analysis is specified in terms of the lower limit of its CI. Hence, when exposure measures are constructed according to the ISO standard and equal weight is given to the results of the 2 methods for interpolating prevalence described here, the ISO exposure-response relation would be considered to provide a conservative estimate for a 10% prevalence of VWF to develop in a population group, at least for A(8) > 4 m/s2. It thus remains the relation to use for assessing exposure to hand-transmitted vibration in the workplace. Additional research is needed to resolve inconsistencies in the ISO method for calculating daily exposures.

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