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Revista de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 0124-0064

Abstract

CUBEROS, Esther; RODRIGUEZ, Alba I  and  PRIETO, Edgar. Chromium levels and their relationship with alterations in the health of tannery workers living and working in Bogotá, Colombia. Rev. salud pública [online]. 2009, vol.11, n.2, pp. 278-289. ISSN 0124-0064.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0124-00642009000200012.

Objective Determining whether chromium levels in urine samples were higher than limits and contrasting them with alterations in the health of people living and working in the San Benito neighbourhood of Bogotá. Methods The total amount of chromium in urine was measured as a biological marker of exposure in a sample of 827 people. This was contrasted with health alterations attributed to chromium exposition. Exposure was defined by being whether current economic activity was related to working in a tannery. Two groups were defined: being directly exposed (26 %) and having potentially high exposure (73 %). Results 6.3 % presented >10 ug/L chromium levels (4.64 % to 7.96 % confidence interval). No significant statistical differences were found between both groups. 34.3 % presented a diagnosis of possible attribution to chromium exposure, of whom 23.3 % were due to otorhinolaryngologic issues, 6.5 % to dermatological ones, 2.9 % to ophthalmologic ones and 1.6 % to oral cavity issues. The remaining 65.7 % of cases were not related. >10ug/L levels and living in the particular neighbourhood in question were associated (4.94 odds ratio; 1.18 %-20.69 % CI). The results suggested a connection between economic activity and health alterations due to chromium components. Conclusions The people involved in producing leather have a significant risk of presenting clinical conditions attributed to chromium exposure (4.33 OR; 3.12-6.02 CI). San Benito´s inhabitants are being exposed to chromium as if they were actually working in a tannery as they are in daily contact with chromium or its components through non work-related activities, such as environmental contamination. Concern at such exposure should lead to further in-depth studies.

Keywords : Tannery; chromium; leather industry; adverse effects; toxicity; occupational exposure; chromium toxicity.

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