Hugh William Davies

Associate Professor

Research Classification

Occupational Safety and Health
Community Health / Public Health
Environmental Health

Research Interests

Occupational Health
Exposure Assessment
Noise and Health
Antineoplastic drug hazards

Relevant Degree Programs

Research Options

I am interested in and conduct interdisciplinary research.

Research Methodology

Environmental Epidemiology
Exposure Assessment


Master's students
Doctoral students
Postdoctoral Fellows
Any time / year round

Occupational Health Hazards: Antineoplastic Drugs

New ways to exploit occupational exposure data

I support experiential learning experiences, such as internships and work placements, for my graduate students and Postdocs.

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Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2019)
Understanding regulatory workplace safety inspections in British Columbia, Canada: theory and evaluation (2020)

No abstract available.

Examining the risk of cardiovascular disease associated with exposure to shift work and psychosocial stress among paramedics (2012)

No abstract available.

Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
Occupational noise exposure and the risk of diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease (2013)

Occupational noise exposure is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. A biological model explains this association through a general stress reaction and the dysregulation of otherwise normal psychoneuralhormonal pathways. Given this evidence and the hypothesized link between stress and metabolic disorders or immunologic response (i.e. inflammation) we hypothesized that risk of diabetes and arthritis are elevated in those exposed to noise at work.Cases and controls were drawn from the National Population Health Survey (NPHS), a longitudinal survey conducted by Statistics Canada. Eligible subjects were aged 18 to 55 in the first cycle (1994/1995) and who did not have the health outcome of interest up to and including the fourth cycle (2000/2001). Cases were determined from self reports in the fifth (2002/2003) through eighth cycle (2008/2009); each case was matched to five controls who were disease free at the time when the case was diagnosed. Subjects’ noise exposure at work was assessed using cumulative exposure. Noise levels by various occupations/industries were derived from a job exposure matrix built from WorkSafeBC’s noise exposure dataset and exposure duration was estimated according to the self-reported work status in the NPHS. Conditional logistic regression was used to estimate the odds ratios of developing the health outcomes of interest; models were adjusted for life style factors (physical activity, smoking, drinking), socio-economic factors (education, family income), and health status factors (hypertension, obesity).In the current study the adjusted diabetes ORs (95% CI) for medium and high exposure groups (using low exposure group as reference) were 0.93 (0.61 – 1.41) and 1.04 (0.67 – 1.59), respectively. The corresponding ORs (95% CI) for rheumatoid arthritis were 1.01 (0.56 – 1.82) and 1.07 (0.57 – 2.01). For cardiovascular disease, the ORs (95% CI) were 0.87 (0.59 – 1.28) and 0.85 (0.57 – 1.27). We did not find evidence of an increased risk of diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or cardiovascular disease in those exposed to occupational noise. Possible biases in this study may explain the lack of an observed association including misclassification bias – particularly of exposure - and the healthy worker effect. Future studies are warranted and should focus on improving exposure assessment.

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Methylmercury exposure in British Columbian anglers who consume both recreationally caught and commercially bought fish (2011)

Methylmercury is a common contaminant found in fish. Chronic exposure can have detrimental effects on the nervous, cardiovascular and immune systems. Since mercury exposure can come from consuming fish that is caught as well as fish that is purchased, recreational anglers are a group that may have higher exposure than non-anglers. It was the primary goal of this study to determine whether exposure to methylmercury in Vancouver Island recreational anglers was greater from the consumption of sport-fish or from commercial fish.Study participants were recruited from the BC Ministry of Environment freshwater fishing license list. A comprehensive questionnaire was administered over the telephone to enumerate potential sources of exposure to methylmercury. While the questionnaire primarily focused on the frequency, mass and species of fish consumed, other exposure sources were also examined. Following the questionnaire, a blood sample was collected and analyzed for mercury.A total of 195 anglers between the ages of 21 and 85 participated in the study. 80% of the subjects were male and approximately 90% were born in Canada. The geometric mean blood-mercury concentration was 2.33 ± 2.16 μg/L. In multiple regression analysis, the consumption of caught rockfish, shellfish and cutthroat trout as well as bought fresh/frozen albacore tuna, fresh/frozen ‘other’ tuna, i.e. ahi, skipjack or yellowfin, and snapper were found to be the greatest predictors of exposure.The results of this study demonstrated that exposure to methylmercury in Vancouver Island anglers was equally distributed between recreational and commercial fish species. The observed blood-mercury concentrations were consistent with similar studies, as was the discovery that it was primarily the frequent consumption of fish species containing low to moderate amounts of mercury that drove exposure. While this study determined that three recreational and three commercial fish species were predictors of exposure, five of these six were saltwater species while the sixth, cutthroat trout, was anadromous. Future studies should therefore focus on evaluating the differences in exposure between fresh and saltwater fish consumption. In addition, conducting a comprehensive survey of tissue-mercury levels in Vancouver Island fish would provide valuable region-specific data, leading to better exposure estimates in anglers.

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Asbestosis and General Health among Migrant Shipbreakers from Northern Bangladesh (2010)

In Bangladesh, shipbreaking is often carried out by internal migrant workers from the impoverished northern regions. Ships can contain hazardous substances such as polychlorinated biphenyls, heavy metals and asbestos, which are all recognized carcinogens. Work is done by hand, without heavy equipment, adequate training or protection, and with high potential for exposures. This pilot study examined asbestosis and non asbestos-related respiratory symptoms among these migrant workers.Shipbreakers were recruited from their home communities in northern Bangladesh. They were interviewed in Bangla, and received anteroposterior chest x-rays and physical exams. Information was collected on: a) respiratory symptoms using validated questions from the American Thoracic Society, b) work history and past occupational exposures, c) clinical history, d) attitudes around occupational health and safety, e) and knowledge of the potential heath risks and fate of asbestos. Chest x-rays were read by a B-reader for asbestosis diagnosis. One hundred and four male shipbreakers were recruited with average age 40 years and 2.5 years education. On average they had nine years shipbreaking experience and 17 years since first year of employment on the yards. Radiographic results indicated a six percent prevalence of asbestosis, and results from the interviews indicated a thirteen percent and eight percent prevalence of work-related cough and phlegm, and work-related shortness of breath, respectively.The prevalence of asbestosis appears lower than seen in previous studies of shipbuilders and ship-repairers. However, beach-based shipbreakers (steel plate loaders and cable-pullers) were overrepresented in comparison to ship-based (cutters and fitters) workers. This, and the small sample size, inclusion criteria, and a possibly exaggerated healthy worker effect, could have resulted in an underestimate of prevalence. Ships typical of those being dismantled contain several tons of asbestos; there is a need for improvements in exposure control, including educating the shipbreakers about asbestos and where it is found. Future research should focus on subjects who have worked closer to the source of exposure, as well as better characterizing the exposure and learning about the fate of the asbestos after it leaves the yards.

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