Could a Simple Test Help Prevent Fatigue-Related Mistakes?
A urine test may be used to help monitor levels of fatigue and potentially decrease fatigue-related errors, according to a study published in Analytical Chemistry.
"Mental fatigue at work is a serious problem and can raise safety concerns especially in the transportation system," stated study author Zhenling Chen, from the Civil Aviation Medicine Center, Beijing, China. Scientific studies in the past have established fatigue as a major problem in the transportation and healthcare industries. Mental fatigue is believed to be a direct contributor to air- and road-related accidents and incidents. Reduced work efficiency, alertness, and impaired mental performance are all associated with fatigue.
Chen and coauthors aimed to determine whether a urine test could detect the biochemical changes associated with symptoms of fatigue and weariness. They analyzed urine samples from 45 air traffic controllers working in civil aviation pre- and post-shift (8 hours) on the job. Of the thousands of metabolites identified, three candidates were recognized as potential indicators of fatigue.
More studies are needed to confirm the findings but the preliminary data show that urine metabolites may be a new way to "understand, monitor, and manage human mental fatigue," Chen concluded.
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