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Riffat Naseem Malik 1 Article
Hematological Evidence of Occupational Exposure to Chemicals and Other Factors among Auto-Repair Workers in Rawalpindi, Pakistan
Atif Kamal, Riffat Naseem Malik
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2012;3(4):229-238.   Published online December 31, 2012
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AbstractAbstract PDF
Occupational exposure to aromatic solvents causes many serious health hazards to workers, especially if an ambient environment increases the exposure during routine working hours. This study was conducted on two related groups, i.e., automobile mechanics (MCs) and automobile spray painters (PNs), with an effort to analyze effects of chemical exposure on hematological parameters, keeping a focus on environmental parameters and workers’ personal behavioral characteristics that could be held responsible for increasing exposure risk.
A preliminary survey of various chemicals used in these places was done, and 78 blood samples were collected from three groups (control, n = 24; mechanics, n = 25; painters, n = 29). Demographic features of workers were recorded through a short questionnaire.

showed that mean red blood cell (RBC) count was lower both in MCs [t(51) = 2.38, p < 0.021, r = 0.32] and in PNs [t(47) = 2.12, p < 0.03, r = 0.29], whereas mean hemoglobin (Hb) was significantly lower in MCs [t(51) = 2.5, p = 0.017, r = 0.33]. Combined data for exposed groups for smokers (SMs) versus nonsmokers (NSs) showed that SMs had a significantly lower number (RBC count: t(52) = 2.28, p < 0.027, r = 0.25; Hb count: t(52) = 2.71, p < 0.009, r = 0.30] of these parameters than NSs, even compared to the control group. Moreover, logistic regression results showed that smoking is a significant predictor of reduction in RBC and Hb counts, besides occupational exposure and work experience to a little extent among exposed workers. Mean white blood cell count [t(47) = 2.63, p < 0.01, r=0.35], mean corpuscle volume [t(47)= –2.82, p = 0.007, r = 0.29], and packed cell volume [t(47)= –2.28, p = 0.027, r = 31] were higher exclusively in painters, which could be related to exposure to benzene in addition to isocyanate.
It appeared that workplace exposure may be complex due to interaction of multiple factors and PNs face much more exposure to isocyanate and aromatic solvents than MCs, which had significant effects on their hematopoiesis. Smoking enhances exposure risk manifolds, and among MCs it showed combined effects along with occupational exposure. There is a need to create awareness among these workers to adopt self-safety measures during routine tasks and also of a separate study to elucidate actual occupational exposure among them, eliminating confounding factors.


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PHRP : Osong Public Health and Research Perspectives