Respiratory symptoms in workers at Katako wood market, Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria

  • OO Chirdan Department of Community Medicine, Jos University Teaching Hospital, Jos, Plateau State.
  • JT Akosu Department of Community Medicine, Jos University Teaching Hospital, Jos, Plateau State.
Keywords: Timber workers, Respiratory Symptoms, Lung function, Jos


Background: Exposure to wood dust has been shown to cause organic dust toxic syndrome, occupational asthma, airway inflammation, an increased risk of sinusoidal cancer and impaired lung functions in woodworkers. This study determines the prevalence of respiratory symptoms and the lung functions of woodworkers in Jos, north-central, Nigeria.
Materials and Methods: A cross–sectional study design was used to interview 120 timber workers from a timber market sampled using simple random sampling. Information was obtained using interviewer-administered questionnaires and the lung function tests of the participants measured using a peak flow meter.
Results: The mean age of the respondents was 28 years. At the time of the study 62.5% (75 ) of the respondents had respiratory symptoms; many had more than one symptom. The main symptoms among the respondents were regular blocked nose in 74(61.71%), runny nose 50(41.7%) recurrent cold 27 (22.5%), sneezing 68(56.7%), noisy breathing 11 (9.2%), shortness of breath 8(6.7%), chest tightness 16(13.3%) and cough 63(52.5%). All the workers with symptoms experienced them at work while, 56(74.6%) had relief when away from work. The symptoms were mainly associated with Mahogany, Masonia, Bosca and Obeche (African whitewood) woods. None of the workers in the mill were observed to be using respirators or masks.
Only one (0.8%) of the workers had peak expiratory flow volume (PEFV) less than 300 liters /minute. The peak expiratory value had no significant association with the presence of symptoms and the number of years spent working in the wood industry (p= 0.454).
Conclusion: Wood workers should be health educated on the dangers of wood dust; they should be encouraged to use masks and wood dust should be controlled at source.
KEY WORDS: Timber workers; Respiratory Symptoms; Lung function; Jos
Journal of Community Medicine & Primary Health Care Vol.16(2) 2004: 30-33

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eISSN: 0794-7410