Why study biologic hazards?

Biologic agents are present in a variety of workplaces. For example, factories can expose workers to microbials, and office buildings can contain mould.

Generally we think of infectious disease outcomes in the health care sector but biologic agents are present in many sectors – mould in buildings, microbials in metalworking fluids, laboratories, animal services or research, pandemic flu will impact all business through restrictions on travel, reduced demand for products/services, employee absences, restrictions on gatherings.

Workers are largely unaware of pathogens in the air in their workplace. The invisibility of the exposure enhances the threat of infection. The health risks of exposure to potentially infectious bioaerosols are poorly defined. For agents such as influenza virus, we do not have set risk-based exposure limits.

We recognize that the relationship between agent and host is complex, since host factors such as vaccination status, pre-existing specific immunity, global immune status, co-morbidities, etc. must be considered in the context of infectious diseases.