Pulmonary function impairment in female workers exposed to environments with varied ambient air pollution in the central business area of Lusaka-Zambia
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Previous studies have highlighted the role of ambient fine particulate matter as an important cause of both mortality and morbidity for many respiratory illnesses. When inhaled, PM2.5 causes to the airways and lungs obstructive, restrictive or both types of functional impairment through generation of highly reactive oxygen species. Physiological consequence is functional impairment manifested by reduced forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), functional vital capacity (FVC) and their ratio (i.e. FEV1/FVC). In Zambia, cleaners play an important role in maintaining health and hygiene. The nature of their job exposes them to varying degrees of PM2.5. The levels of PM2.5 in ambient Lusaka air are not known, and health-based limits for dust control in the work places are lacking. The study was undertaken in order to examine the associations between lung function status of female adult cleaners and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations in ambient Lusaka air. Materials and Methods The study included women between 18-50 years of age who had been working as street or office cleaners for 6 months or more. The cleaners were interviewed to get information on socio-demographic characteristics and other information using a structured interview schedule. The participants’ lung volumes, forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), forced vital capacity (FVC) and their ratio (FEV1/FVC) were measured using a MRI spirobank G spirometer. On the day of the interview, PM2.5 in their work environment was sampled using a personal aerosol monitor (SIDEPAK AM510). The biomedical ethics committee of the University of Zambia, school of medicine, approved the research. Data were analysed using SPSS (version 20) for windows. Results Out of the 90 participants, 45 were street sweepers and 45 were office cleaners. More street sweepers had impaired lung function (FEV1/FVC) 15(75%) than office cleaners 5(25%). FEV1 was also significantly different among street sweepers 12(70.6%) and office cleaners 5(29.4%). PM2.5 measurements revealed significantly xv high levels of exposure among street sweepers. Participants with impaired lung function and those with reduced FEV1percent predicted were exposed to significantly high concentrations of PM2.5. Conclusion/Recommendation: Exposure to high PM2.5 concentration is associated with pulmonary function impairment and reduced FEV1 % predicted among cleaners. It is therefore, recommended that cleaners, be subjected to periodic health checks, in order to check for the development of cardiopulmonary symptoms and necessitate early intervention.
The University of Zambia