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Biological monitoring of exposure to chromium and toluene amongst leather workers

Author: 
Prem Chand, Rishi Pal and SVS Rana, R.
Subject Area: 
Life Sciences
Abstract: 

Although sophisticated processes have been developed to prepare the leather goods, handcrafts methods still remains an industry giving the high quality products. The job is performed by cutting, gluing, sewing, dyeing and buffing or polishing various leather products. Entire process involves the occupational exposure to toxic chemicals like benzene, toluene, styrene, n-hexane and metallic compounds like chromium and certain organic dyes. There exists a health risk of neuro-psychiatric disorders and behavioral changes after chronic toluene intoxication in these workers. Present investigation describes the magnitude of exposure to chromium and toluene in workers engaged in leather cottage industry, around Meerut, India. Urine samples were collected from a selected group of leather workers. The urine samples were examined for the metabolites of toluene and urinary chromium by spectrophotometer. These results show that excretion of hippuric acid, a metabolite of toluene was influenced by certain confounding factors i.e. cigarette smoke and food habits. It was also influenced by age and work experience. Presence of chromium in the urine samples denominates chromium toxicity in selected population of workers. It may lead to different health problems including lung cancer. Chromium concentration was found to be high in smokers, alcoholics and in non-vegetarians. With the current situation of industrial hygiene, exposure of leather dust, glues and chromium like metals amongst these workers needs continuous monitoring.

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