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ISRN Public Health
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 325410, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/325410
Research Article

Occupational Exposure to Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter and Lung Functions Deterioration of Steel Workers: An Exploratory Study in India

1Department of Industrial & Production Engineering, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar National Institute of Technology, Jalandhar, Punjab 144044, India
2Department of Physiology, All India Institute of Medical Science, New Delhi, India

Received 14 May 2013; Accepted 1 July 2013

Academic Editors: V. H. Borja-Aburto and I. Szadkowska-Stanczyk

Copyright © 2013 Lakhwinder Pal Singh et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Objective. Manufacturing industry, especially casting and forging (iron and steel) industry, comprises a major part of the occupation in India. However, health protection is still ignored. Therefore the present study explores the respiratory symptoms among steel workers and subsequently measured the level of exposure to RSPM and lung functions parameters using spirometry investigation. Method. Present study assessed the level of respiratory symptoms through questionnaire survey of 572 workers, out of which 309 workers and another control group of 74 subjects were assessed for the spirometry test. Both of the groups were statistically matched for age and BMI. Students’ t-test and one-way ANOVA were used to compare the various subgroups. Results. The results reveal that workers are exposed to higher respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) levels than the limit of 5 mg/m3 prescribed by Indian factory act. The spirometric parameters such as FVC, FEV1, FEV1/FVC ratio, FEF25–75, PEFR, PIFR, and FIVC were significantly lower in exposed group than in controls. In the present scenario the iron and steel SMEs of the region are very much lagging behind in implementing the occupational health and safety practices. Conclusions. The majority of the workers were not wearing proper PPEs like masks due to ergonomically bad design, and at the same time they were working 60 to 72 hrs/week, which leads to very high level of exposure to RSPM. Therefore, the workers were under higher risk of lungs functions deterioration.