Evaluation of Dust Exposure among the Workers in Agricultural Industries in North-East India

This study aims to quantify dust exposure among the workers in four different industrial settings: rice mills, flour mills, oil mills, and tea factories and to compare the obtained data with the permissible exposure limit (PEL) of Indian Union Ministry of Labour as well as to compare the dust exposure across activities and seasons. RespiCon(TM) particle sampler was used for collecting dust concentration in the breathing zone of the workers. In total, 149 workers participated in the study and 204 samples were collected. Samples were collected in the vicinity of different processing operations. Samples in the rice mills were collected for two consecutive years in two seasons; however samples from other industries were collected for 1 year. The results indicate that geometric mean (GM) of dust exposure was significantly (P < 0.0001) different among industrial settings. Respirable dust were 8.22, 5.76, 2.98, and 6.34mg m(-3) and total dust exposure were 81.05, 111.02, 56.68, and 39.85mg m(-3) in the rice mills, oil mills, flour mills, and tea factories, respectively. Considerable variations in dust exposure were observed in different activities in the rice and oil mills; however variation was relatively less in the flour mills and tea factories. In the rice mills, dust concentration was higher in winter than those obtained in autumn and it is significantly different (P < 0.05) for inhalable dust and total dust. Positive correlation was obtained in thoracic dust (r (2) = 0.94) and inhalable dust (r (2) = 0.97) with total dust and thoracic dust with inhalable dust (r (2) = 0.89). The authors concluded that the findings from the present study show that majority of the workers are exposed to higher level of respirable dust as compared to the PEL, while total dust exposure to all the workers were higher than the PEL; thus, immediate reduction of dust exposure among the workers is necessary for preventing respiratory system impairment. Authors: Dewangan KN, Patil MR. ;Full Source: The Annals of Occupational Hygiene. 2015 Aug 31. pii: mev061. [Epub ahead of print] ;