Journal of Community Medicine & Health Education
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nhalation of airborne nickel (Ni) and chromium (Cr) in workplaces causes a variety of respiratory ailments. This adversely
affects the productivity of the employees. A study was therefore carried out in 6 plants, on 233 production workers, to
investigate the influence of Ni and Cr exposure on their respiratory systems. Air samples were collected in the breathing zones
of these workers and subsequently analysed for Ni and Cr using atomic absorption spectrophotometery. Information on the
previous medical history of the workers was obtained using questionnaires. Their lung functions were further investigated using
a spirometer in order to assess the influence of these metals on their respiratory functions. The study established that 26.2% of
the workers had respiratory diseases that were associated with bronchitis, wheezing, shortness of breath, asthma, sneezing attacks
and tonsillitis among other related symptoms. Most of these workers were from steel and scrap welding, leather tanneries and
paint manufacturing plants. The breathing zone air of the afflicted workers had significantly high mean concentrations of 6.4 ?
4.4 ?g/m3 Ni and 9.6 ? 5.3 ?g/m3 Cr when compared to those who were not affected (4.9 ? 3.2 ?g/m3 Ni and 4.4 ? 3.8 ?g/m3 Cr).
A high proportion of the workers also had reduced lung functions. All clinically diagnosed cases of both severe and mild airway
obstructions were more than those that were self reported in the questionnaires. The study therefore recommended regular
respiratory medical surveillance for workers in Cr and Ni related industries, for early intervention.
Faridah is a Research Scientists with the Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute. Her research interest is in both environmental
and occupational exposure of heavy metals and related health effects among children and factory workers, respectively in Kenya. Currently, she is
actively advocating for better health working conditions for the workers in processing industries. In particular, she is working closely with the relevant
authorities to develop national guidelines on Occupational Lead Exposure. She has published several articles in the peer reviewed journals. She is
also a part-time lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Kenya. She teaches safety methods in laboratory and other workplaces where she has jointly
published a course book with the University of Nairobi Press. In addition, she was nominated as a national technical committee member for the
Kenya Bureau of Standards involved in developing standards of solvents and chemicals
Godfrey is a Lecturer and an Environmental Chemist with 12 and 17 years of teaching and research experience, respectively in the Department of
Chemistry at the University of Nairobi. His area of specialization is toxic air pollutants in industrial and urban environments and their related health
impacts in Kenya and he has published articles in the peer reviewed journals. He has a wide consultancy experience in the area of soil, water and air
quality assessments including waste management. He is also a national technical committee member of the Kenya Bureau of Standards engaged
in developing standards of Air Quality.
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