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Health Status of Workers Exposed to Talcum Powder in Hospitals in Southern Thailand

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Volume: 6 | Issue: 4 | Pages: 397-405
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2006.07.0007
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Thitiworn Choosong , Pitchaya Phakthongsuk

  • Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Songkla University, Hat Yai, Songkhla, 90110, Thailand

Abstract

The respiratory health of Thai healthcare workers who are exposed to talc from their work has not previously been investigated. The aim of this study was to survey the concentration of talc levels and health status of hospital workers. Two hospitals in southern Thailand were sampled. Altogether 105 workers voluntarily participated, but 99 workers completed physical examinations, spirometry and full-size chest radiograph. Area and personal sampling were conducted to determine levels of talcum concentration. To detect silica and asbestos contaminating the talcum, three bulk samples were taken and examined by X-ray diffraction. The average area talcum concentration was 0.0723 ± 0.0951 mg/m3 and at the worker’s breathing zone was 0.1493 ± 0.1867 mg/m3. No asbestos or free silica was found in the three bulk samples. Six workers in the exposure group and only one of the control group had restrictive lungs. Five of the workers had small opacities. A high-resolution computed tomography in three workers found no talcosis or silicosis. Log FVC and log FEV1 were significantly associated with age and sex, but for FEV1/FVC ratio, only age was a significant parameter. The talcum concentrations under study were not beyond the standard limits. The working conditions in the hospitals were well-controlled and the talcum gradient was found to be asbestos free. The abnormal chest X-rays may be partly explained by past exposure in these two hospitals, or previous occupational exposure.

Keywords

Talcum Hospital Pneumoconiosis Exposure Silicosis


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