Occupational Exposure to Respirable Dust, Crystalline Silica and Its Pulmonary Effects among Workers of a Cement Factory in Kermanshah, Iran


1 Research Center for Environmental Determinants of Health (RCEDH), Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences, Kermanshah, Iran,

2 Department of Occupational Health, School of Public Health and Safety, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran,

3 Department of Occupational Health Engineering, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran


Background: Although the main hazard in cement processing is dust, and its effects on pulmonary function constitute the most important group of occupational diseases in this industry, evidence for association between exposure to cement dust and pulmonary function has not been conclusive. This study was performed with the aim to evaluate the impact of cement dust in the workplace on decreasing pulmonary function parameters among the workers. Materials and Methods: In this cross-sectional study 283 workers were studied, of which 140 workers were considered as exposed group and 143 workers as non-exposed group. Fifty samples of respirable dust were collected from breathing zone of workers in different sections of cement factory. Visible absorption spectrophotometry was used according to the NIOSH Method 7601 to measure crystalline silica content of reparable dust samples. Spirometry test was also applied to assess workers’ pulmonary function parameters. Results: Respirable dust concentration was in the range of 1.77 to 6.12 mg/m3. The concentration of crystalline silica in all units was higher than the Threshold Limit Value (TLV) (0.025 mg / m3). There were a significant difference in the Peak Expiratory Flow (PEF) parameter among workers in the two exposed and non-exposed groups to respirable dust (P= 0.017). In other parameters of pulmonary function (FVC, FEV1, FEF 25-75, FEV1/FVC %), there were no significant differences between the two groups under study (P= 0.45, P= 0.14, P= 0.29 and P= 0.23, respectively). Conclusion: The findings of this study have provided an evidence to confirm the hypothesis that exposure to cement dust can cause complication in PEF parameter of cement industry workers.