Worker health is determined not only by occupational hazards but also by environmental factors. Chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes are the leading causes of mortality worldwide, accounting for almost two-thirds of all deaths. Chronic diseases have a multifactorial etiology, such as only 10% of overall lung cancer in men and 5% in women are attributable to occupational hazards, while a majority of etiology comes from smoking and other environmental exposures. Many environmental exposures of chronic diseases are common in workers, while some of them are related to job nature and working schedule, and these may have a large impact on worker health.
This presentation focuses on some common environmental risk factors among workers and discusses their impacts on burdens of chronic diseases based on Hong Kong experience, covering the following topics (1) tobacco smoking and workplace environmental tobacco smoke and health impacts (e.g., lung cancer, metabolic syndromes); (2) environmental exposure to bisphenol A and health impacts (e.g., metabolic syndromes, prostate cancer); (3) changed sleep and diet patterns related to shift work schedule/long working hours and the health impacts based on our ongoing prospective shift worker cohort in China and Hong Kong breast cancer study. This presentation also emphasizes the importance of integrating the prevention of chronic diseases and improving worker health with the promotion of a healthy environment beyond the workplace.