Medical surveillance of clandestine drug laboratory investigators

Jefferey L. Burgess, Dana F. Kovalchick, Erin M. Siegel, Tracy A. Hysong, Stephen A. McCurdy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Law enforcement officers investigating clandestine drug laboratories may be exposed to a wide range of hazardous chemicals. This study was conducted to determine the extent of persistent health effects seen in California drug laboratory investigators after occupational exposure. Study participants with a minimum of 1 year of laboratory investigations completed a questionnaire evaluating occupational and personal health history and consented to review of their medical surveillance examinations and administrative records. The 40 participating investigators averaged 6.1 ± 2.5 annual medical evaluations for the period 1991 to 1998. Average annual decline in forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) was 64.0 ± 138.0 mL/year (median, 40.0 mL/year). For 34 subjects with valid exposure data, longer duration use of respiratory protection was associated with a less rapid decline in FEV1, whereas lack of respiratory protection during the processing phase of laboratory investigation was associated with a more rapid annual decline. There were no significant longitudinal changes in serum alanine aminotransferase, serum aspartate aminotransferase, hemoglobin, and white blood cell count, although platelets declined slightly. Law enforcement personnel investigating clandestine drug laboratories may have long-term respiratory effects from chemical exposure, for which more assiduous use of respiratory protection is recommended.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-189
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of occupational and environmental medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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