Workplace Contaminant Monitoring

July 15, 2011

Workplace exposure to chemical contaminants is a source of potential health risks for workers.

Workplace exposure to chemical contaminants is a source of potential health risks for workers. A study conducted in Pakistan has investigated the risks to automobile workshop mechanics and car spray painters (1). It found multiple environmental factors that are putting workers at risk and also identified some key behaviour changes that can lead to better protection.The current study was designed to evaluate blood naphthalene (NAPH) levels as an indicator of exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The relationship between blood NAPH levels and personal behavioural, job related parameters and various environmental factors was then investigated.

Sixty blood samples were collected to compare blood NAPH levels among exposed and un-exposed groups. Samples were analysed using high pressure liquid chromatography.

The study identified automobile work areas as potential sites for PAHs exposure, which was reflected by higher blood NAPH levels. Both active and passive smoking was found to enhance exposure risks several-fold. For the exposed, work hours and work experience showed strong associations with the increase in blood NAPH levels. Poor workplace hygiene and ventilation were recognized as most significant predictors related to differences among workplaces that may enhance the extent of exposure to chemical contaminants.

The study concluded that smoking and negligence of workers regarding self protection were among some of the important personal behaviours than can be addressed with better training. It also recommended that there is a need to improve workplaces hygiene and to rationalize work hours to minimize health risks.

1. A. Kamal et al., BMC Public Health, 11(467) (2011).