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Am J Ind Med. 1993 Apr;23(4):589-604.

Selected health risks caused by long-term, whole-body vibration.

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  • 1Federal Institute for Occupational Health, Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany.


The problem of a "vibration disease" caused by low-frequency whole-body vibration (wbv) is critically discussed. Disorders of the nervous, circulatory, and digestive systems are interpreted not to be predominantly wbv-specific, but to be related to the totality of working conditions. Long-term wbv exposure can probably contribute to the pathogenesis of disorders of female reproductive organs (menstrual disturbances, anomalies of position) and disturbances of pregnancy (abortions, stillbirths). Animal experiments suggest harmful effects on the fetus. WBV has a minor synergistic effect on the development of noise-induced hearing loss. Degenerative changes of the spine are more prevalent among wbv-exposed workers. Model calculations demonstrate an increased spinal load in pregnant women exposed to wbv or self-induced vibration, and illustrate a possibility for the comparison of data on stress, strain, and strength. The analysis of individual exposure-effect relationships is suggested as a future approach for evaluating potential occupation-related diseases.

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