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Non-specific occupational health conditions among brass workers at Gadaladeniya, Sri Lanka

Author:

Pushpa L Jayawardena

Senior Lecturer, Department of Community and Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Ragama, LK
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Abstract

Objective To determine the effect of exposure to metal dusts, fumes and high temperature levels among brass workers in comparison to a control group.
Study design Analytical cross-sectional study.
Methodology One hundred and fifty four brass workers were matched for age with 154 controls selected from the local population. An interviewer-administered questionnaire was used to determine the presence of acute and chronic symptoms and metal fume fever. Haemoglobin and blood zinc and copper levels were measured using the cyanmethaemoglobin technique and atomic absorption spectrophotometry respectively. Thermal environmental measurements were carried out by determining wet bulb and globe temperature (WBGT) levels and air velocity.
Results Among the chronic symptoms anorexia (OR = 3.3), distaste (OR = 8.3), and aches and pains (OR = 4.0) were significantly higher in the study group. Among the acute symptoms at work, cough (OR = 4.2), dry nose (OR = 6.8), tearing (OR = 6.3), and itchy eyes (OR = 6.3) were significantly higher in the study group. Sweating was significantly higher in the control group. Metal fume fever was significantly higher among the study group with an OR of 7.6. Levels of both copper and zinc were significantly higher in the study group, although both median and mean values were lower than the normal reference ranges. The recommended WBGT level of 26.1°C for an air velocity of less than 1.53 m/s for heavy work was exceeded only in two workshops.
Conclusions Prevalence of non-specific symptoms was higher among brass workers. It is necessary to take preventive measures.

(Index words: Blood copper and zinc levels; metal fume fever)

DOI: 10.4038/cmj.v49i4.1922

Ceylon Medical Journal Vol.49(4) 2004 pp.122-127

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4038/cmj.v49i4.1922
How to Cite: Jayawardena, P.L., 2010. Non-specific occupational health conditions among brass workers at Gadaladeniya, Sri Lanka. Ceylon Medical Journal, 49(4), pp.122–127. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/cmj.v49i4.1922
Published on 21 May 2010.
Peer Reviewed

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