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Respiratory Diseases Due to Occupational Exposure to Nickel and Chromium among Factory Workers in Kenya | OMICS International | Abstract
ISSN: 2161-0711

Journal of Community Medicine & Health Education
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Research Article

Respiratory Diseases Due to Occupational Exposure to Nickel and Chromium among Factory Workers in Kenya

Faridah H Were1* Charles Moturi M1 Godfrey A Wafula2

1Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI), P.O. Box 30650 - 00100, Nairobi, Kenya

2Department of Chemistry, College of Biological and Physical Sciences, University of Nairobi, P.O. Box 30197-00100, Nairobi, Kenya

*Corresponding Author:
Faridah H Were
Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI)
P.O. Box 30650 - 00100, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254-733551518
Fax: +254 206007023

Received date: July 04, 2013; Accepted date: November 19, 2013; Published date: November 21, 2013

Citation: Were FH, Charles Moturi M, Kamau GN, Wafula GA (2013) Respiratory Diseases Due to Occupational Exposure to Nickel and Chromium among Factory Workers in Kenya. J Community Med Health Educ 3:252. doi: 10.4172/2161-0711.1000252

Copyright: © 2013 Were FH, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Inhalation of airborne nickel (Ni) and chromium (Cr) in workplaces causes a variety of respiratory ailments which adversely affects the productivity of employees. A study was therefore conducted on production workers (N=233) from six different types industrial plants, to investigate the influence of Ni and Cr exposure on their respiratory systems. Breathing zone air and urinary samples were collected, and analyzed for total Ni and Cr using atomic absorption spectroscopy. The medical history of the workers was obtained using questionnaires. Their lung functions were further examined using a spirometer. Mean (± standard deviation) breathing zone air of 23.4 ± 11.6 μg/m3 Cr and 10.3 ± 4.3 μg/ m3 Ni was highest among the tanners and welders, respectively. The mean level of 35.2 ± 12.1 Cr and 28.4 ± 7.8 Ni in μg/g creatinine were also highest in the urine of corresponding workers. A significant (P<0.01) correlation of r=0.86 Cr and r=0.89 Ni was observed between airborne and urinary levels in all production workers. Approximately 26.6% of the workers had respiratory diseases that were associated with wheezing, shortness of breath, sneezing attacks among other related symptoms. Most of these workers were welders, tanners and, to lesser extent, paint manufacturers. The breathing zone air of the afflicted workers had significantly (P<0.05) high mean levels of 6.4 ± 4.4 μg/m3 Ni and 9.6 ± 5.3 μg/m3 Cr than those who were not affected (3.9 ± 3.2 μg/m3 Ni and 4.4 ± 3.8 μg/m3 Cr). A high proportion of the workers had reduced ventilatory function measurements. We recommend comprehensive assessment of Cr and Ni in related industries with significant exposures. Designing and developing of training programs and educative manuals on safety and health procedures, and regular medical surveillance is also recommended.


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