Evaluation of Peak Expiratory Flow Rates (PEFR) of Workers In A Cement Factory In Port Harcourt, South- South, Nigeria
Background: Occupational lung diseases (OLD) remain one of the most common workplace health challenges since the industrial revolution. One of the risks for OLD is the exposure to cement dust which is associated with varying degrees of respiratory symptoms and reduction in lung function. This study aimed to measure the peak expiratory flow rates (PEFR) of workers in a cement manufacturing company in Port Harcourt and estimate the determinants of the measured rates.
Method: In this descriptive cross-sectional study, 105 workers of a cement company who presented for the annual fitness to work exercise were sampled and had their peak expiratory flow rates measured using a spirometer. Data were also collected using structured interviewer-administered questionnaires and a walk through survey carried out to examine workplace situation. The results were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics.
Results: The study showed that 13.3% of the workers had abnormal (i.e low) PEFR. The lowest mean PEFR of 327.5L/min was found among workers who had worked for 21 23 years and worked mainly at the production and bagging area. Most of the workers (81.9%) made effective use of some form of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Conclusion: Reduction in the PEFR implied that prolonged exposure to cement dust may result in decreased lung function and by extension pulmonary disease. The high percentage of normal PEFR found among the workers, irrespective of their duration of work, could be attributed to the effective use of the PPE.
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