Ibeneme S.1,2,3,4, Ativie R.N.1, Ibeneme G.C.5, Ettu T.U.6, Okoye I.J.7, Nwankwo J.8
1University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, Medical Rehabilitation, Enugu, Nigeria, 2Hochschule Hannover University of Applied Sciences & Arts, German UNESCO Unit on Bioethics, Fakultät III - Medien, Information und Design, Hannover, Germany, 3University of Nigeria, Clinical Trial Consortium, Enugu, Nigeria, 4Hochschule Hannover - University of Applied Sciences and Arts, UNIRED Research Group, Hannover, Germany, 5Ebonyi State University, Nursing Sciences, Abakiliki, Nigeria, 6National Open University of Nigeria, Owerri Study Centre, Owerri, Nigeria, 7University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, Radiation Medicine, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Enugu, Nigeria, 8Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nnewi Campus, Medical Rehabilitation, Nnewi, Nigeria

Background: Upsurge in cases of cardiac events and cardiopulmonary dysfunctions in Enugu metropolis that involved cement workers, automobile spray painters and saw millers, suggested a relationship with chronic occupational exposure to environmental pollutants, and were investigated.

Purpose: To determine occupation-specific variations in cardiopulmonary function, biomarkers of inflammation and coagulability after exposure to airborne pollutants.

Methods: 80 consenting participants (with workplaces in Achara layout, Enugu, Nigeria), comprising 20 cement workers (39.50±14.95 years), 20 automobile paint sprayers (40.75±9.85 years), 20 sawmillers (52.20±9.77 years), and 20 university staff (42.30±9.06 years) (control group), were respectively selected using stratified random sampling technique, in a case-control study. Achara layout was selected, because of high prevalence of cardiopulmonary conditions among workers in that area. Subsequently, fibrinogen (Fc), C-reactive protein (CrP), and cardiopulmonary parameters were measured, and analyzed using Pearson correlation coefficient, and ANCOVA with Bonferroni test as post-hoc analysis, at p 0.05.

Results: There were significant differences in FEV1 (F=6.128, p=0.001), PEF(F=5.523, p=0.002), QTc (F=4.521, p=0.006), diastolic (F=19.073, p=0.001), and systolic (F=2.903, p=0.040) blood pressure (mmHg) across the groups. FEV1/FVC values were 70% in cement workers and sawmillers unlike automobile paint sprayers. CrP level(mg/L) was 3.32±0.93, 2.90±1.19, and 2.79±1.10, in cement workers, automobile paint sprayers and sawmillers, respectively. QTc interval was significantly (F=4.521, p=0.006) prolonged across the groups, and most pronounced in sawmillers.

Conclusion(s): cement workers and sawmillers showed signs of obstructive airways diseases, with a tendency towards hypotension in cement workers and automobile spray painters, and pre-hypertension in sawmillers. This hints of underlying cardiac abnormalities, with the highest risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) evident in cement workers as indicated by CrP levels. Significantly prolonged ventricular repolarization in sawmillers might contribute to the mechanism of arrhythmogenic conditions.

Implications: Adverse health outcomes are likely to arise with occupational exposure to different airborne pollutants, and inform the need to advocate for adherence to caution, and compliance with industrial standards in practice, operations and locations of industrial parks. Regulatory actions are required to control ambient air pollution levels, and minimize exposures to airborne pollutants. Public health promotion programme must target individuals at-risk of serious clinical cardiovascular events that may arise from occupational exposure to airborne pollutants, by improving the overall state of cardiovascular health in the population.

Funding acknowledgements: This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Topic: Cardiorespiratory

Ethics approval: Ethical approval obtained from Human Health Research Ethical Committee of the University of Nigeria, College of Medicine-NHREC/05/01/2008B.

All authors, affiliations and abstracts have been published as submitted.

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