Environmental exposure to carcinogens in northwestern Cameroon
Background: In developing countries, 6% of deaths are due to cancer but cancer prevention is not practiced. Humans can prevent themselves from a number of workplace and environmental carcinogens.
Objectives: To assess exposure to carcinogens, risky behaviours and associated preventive methods.
Methods: A structured questionnaire was used to collect information on carcinogen exposure in the workplace and environment through trained field staff from volunteers after gaining informed consent. Data was analysed using SPSS.
Results: Participants were exposed to recognized carcinogens and environmental hazards. Thirty-five (83.3%) [95% CI: 72.0- 94.6] participants knew the carcinogen names they were exposed to. Common hygienic practices such as taking a bath and washing work dresses at the workplace, use of detergents to wash hands, and no smoking or eating at the workplace were poor. Twenty-nine (69.0%) [95% CI: 47.0 – 75.0] participants cold smell the carcinogenic chemicals they use. Thirty (71.4%) [95% CI: 65.0 – 77.0] participants had been instructed in the use of protective equipment against carcinogens. Participants used preventive devices like hand gloves, laboratory coats, boots, face masks, goggles, ear plugs and respirators.
Conclusions: Exposure to carcinogens is common necessitating case-control and cohort studies in this locality on cancer prevalence and incidence.
Keywords: Carcinogen, exposure, workplace, environment, risk assessment, prevention, Cameroon
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