Evaluation of the Occupational Health Hazards among Workers in Quarry Industry in Abakaliki Using Biochemical Markers

Serum transaminases are highly diagnostic of hepatobiliary, cardiac, muscular, and other organ damages, while bicarbonates are useful index in assessment of pulmonary and respiratory problems. Reviews on the usefulness of these tools in evaluation of occupational health risks in quarry workers are hitherto limited. 57 and 22 workers of Abakaliki quarry industry and ministry of health respectively, who have worked for more than 10 years, were involved in the study. Alanine transaminases (ALT) and aspartate transaminase (AST) were analysed by enzymatic methods while measurement of bicarbonates (HCO3-) and chlorine (Cl-) was done by titrimetry. In males, AST, ALT, and HCO3- was significantly higher (P<0.05) in quarry workers (18.28+3.05 U/L, 19.22+5.54 U/L, and 39.28+1.8 mmol/L; 6.60+2.63 U/L, 9.94+1.85 U/L, and 24.0+3.8 mmol/L). In females, the values were higher (P<0.05) in quarry workers than in those working in the ministry of health (24.33+6.5 U/L, 22.78+3.28 U/L, 42.13+2.95 mmol/L and 9.33+2.33 U/L, 10.44+2.59 U/L, 25.0+2.61 mmol/L) respectively, for the same duration in years. There was no significant change (P>0.05) in the serum chloride concentration between the quarry male workers and males working in the ministry (98+4.23 mmol/L and 99+3.20 mmol/L respectively), while the chloride level was higher in females quarry workers than the control (113+3.16 and 99+2.65 mmol/L respectively). A sex-adjusted comparison revealed that all the studied parameters were higher in the quarry females than their male counterpart. An elevated value of bicarbonate suggests respiratory and pulmonary diseases while high level of ALT and AST suggests organ-system perturbation in the quarry workers. This study informs the need for proper routine assessment of level of risk exposure of the workers.

 O Edeogu, C Afiukwa, Z Nwosu, U.E Nwachi