Morbidity among municipal waste incinerator workers: a cross-sectional study
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In order that the occupational exposures and health risks for municipal waste incinerator operators be better determined, a study was carried out in three centres.
A transversal study was carried out for 102 male incinerator workers matched for age with 94 male workers from other industrial activities. Three groups of exposed workers were considered (group 1: "crane operators" and "equipment operators"; group 2: "furnace " workers ; group 3: "maintenance" and "effluent-treatment" workers). Data were collected through a questionnaire and medical examination. The respiratory function was explored and blood samples were taken for biological analysis. Statistical analysis using chi2 or Student's test, and calculation of odds-ratio (OR) using logistic regression analysis were performed.
There were no significant differences in general symptoms between the two groups. Skin symptoms (OR =4.85; 2.04–11.51 for the "maintenance and effluent" workers) were more often observed in the exposed group. An excess of respiratory problems was also encountered: daily coughing ["maintenance and effluent" groups (OR =2.55; 0.84–7.75); "furnace men" (OR =6.58; 2.18–19.85)]. A significant relationship between exposure and the decrease of several pulmonary parameters was observed. The liver and haematological tests were well within the normal range; nevertheless, a slight but significant increase in the white blood cells was observed in the exposed group. Higher blood lead levels were found for exposed workers.
There were few adverse health effects in our morbidity study but skin irritation and cough were more frequent in the exposed workers. A slight decrease in pulmonary function was observed. These findings are in agreement with those of several other studies.
KeywordsMunicipal waste incinerator Cross-sectional morbidity study Skin symptoms Respiratory function Blood lead level
Thanks to Dr. M. Richioud, Dr. J. Robinet, and Dr. P. Panchairi for their interest in the realization of this study and for having collected medical data, and to Dr. R. Cadot for his blood-lead analysis. Thanks also to our grant sponsor: Ademe (French Agency for Environment and Energy Management); grant number 4 93 0027.
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