Front Public Health. 2024 May 9;12:1368112. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2024.1368112. eCollection 2024.


INTRODUCTION: Little is known on the association between cross-shift changes in pulmonary function and personal inhalation exposure to particulate matter (PM) among informal electronic-waste (e-waste) recovery workers who have substantial occupational exposure to airborne pollutants from burning e-waste.

METHODS: Using a cross-shift design, pre- and post-shift pulmonary function assessments and accompanying personal inhalation exposure to PM (sizes <1, <2.5 μm, and the coarse fraction, 2.5-10 μm in aerodynamic diameter) were measured among e-waste workers (n = 142) at the Agbogbloshie e-waste site and a comparison population (n = 65) in Accra, Ghana during 2017 and 2018. Linear mixed models estimated associations between percent changes in pulmonary function and personal PM.

RESULTS: Declines in forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) per hour were not significantly associated with increases in PM (all sizes) among either study population, despite breathing zone concentrations of PM (all sizes) that exceeded health-based guidelines in both populations. E-waste workers who worked “yesterday” did, however, have larger cross-shift declines in FVC [-2.4% (95%CI: -4.04%, -0.81%)] in comparison to those who did not work “yesterday,” suggesting a possible role of cumulative exposure.

DISCUSSION: Overall, short-term respiratory-related health effects related to PM exposure among e-waste workers were not seen in this sample. Selection bias due to the “healthy worker” effect, short shift duration, and inability to capture a true “pre-shift” pulmonary function test among workers who live at the worksite may explain results and suggest the need to adapt cross-shift studies for informal settings.

PMID:38784567 | PMC:PMC11111984 | DOI:10.3389/fpubh.2024.1368112