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Abstract

HEALTH RISK ASSESSMENT OF WORKERS EXPOSURE TO FLUORIDE EMISSION FROM ALUMINIUM SMELTER PLANT AT NALCO, ANGUL, ODISHA

H. Pradhan* and B. C. Pradhan

ABSTRACT

Fluoride is used increasingly in a variety of industries in India. Emission of fluoride dust and fumes from the smelters of aluminium producing industries is dissipated in the work environment and poses occupational health hazards. To study the prevalence of health complaints and its association with fluoride level in body fluids of smelter workers in a aluminium producing industry and to conduct quantitative health risk assessment for workers who exposed to metals from an aluminium production industry. In an aluminium industry, health status of 465 smelter workers, 70 supervisors working in the smelter unit, 62 nonsmelter workers (control group 1) and 30 administration staff (control group 2) were assessed between 2018 and 2019. Their health complaints were recorded and categorized into 4 groups: 1) gastro-intestinal complaints; 2) non-skeletal manifestations; 3) skeletal symptoms; and (4) respiratory problems. Fluoride level in body fluids, nails, and drinking water was tested by an ion selective electrode; haemoglobin level was tested using HaemoCue. The total complaints reported by study groups were significantly higher than the control groups. Smelter workers had a significantly (p<0.001) higher urinary and serum fluoride level than non-smelter workers; the nail fluoride content was also higher in smelter workers than nonsmelter workers (p<0.001). The smelter workers with higher haemoglobin level had a significantly (p<0.001) lower urinary fluoride concentration and complained less frequently of health problems. Only 1.4% of the smelter workers were consuming water with high fluoride concentrations. A high percentage of participants was using substances with high fluoride contents. Industrial emission of fluoride is not the only important sources of fluoride exposure—consumption of substance with high levels of fluoride is another important route of entry of fluoride into the body. Measurement of haemoglobin provides a reliable indicator for monitoring the health status of employees at risk of fluorosis.

Keywords: Fluorides; Fluorosis, dental; Industry; Occupational diseases; Early diagnosis; Prevention and control.


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