Lung function, oxygen saturation and symptoms among street sweepers in Calabar, Nigeria

  • CO Nku University of Calabar, Calabar, Nigeria
  • EJ Peters University of Calabar, Calabar, Nigeria
  • AI Eshiet University of Calabar, Calabar, Nigeria
  • O Oku University of Calabar, Calabar, Nigeria
  • EE Osim University of Calabar, Calabar, Nigeria


Chronic inhalation of dust impairs lung function and may cause respiratory symptoms. However, knowledge about the type of dust that can cause these problems is uncertain. Very little attention has been paid to the health of workers chronically exposed to dust raised by street sweeping without precautionary measures. Therefore, a study of lung function, oxygen saturation and symptoms among female street sweepers and their control groups in Calabar, Nigeria was carried out. Ventilatory function tests were done using 200 female street sweepers whose length of service was less than two years and 200 sex, age, weight, and height - matched external controls who were not exposed to any known air pollutant. The percentage of oxygen saturation( SPO2) of both the subjects and their control population was determined using a pulse oximeter. Respirable dust level in the test sites was 0.194 ± 0.002mg/m3 and it was significantly higher (P<0.001) than in control sites, which was 0.015 ± 0.003mg/m3.There was no significant difference in the mean values of SPO2 between the test and control subjects. However, there was also a higher prevalence of back pain (40.5% vs 2.0%; P<0.001), cough (25.5% vs 12.0%; P<0.001), chest pain (13.0% vs 4.0%; P<0.001); Catarrh and sneezing (6.0% vs 0.5%; P<0.01) among the street sweepers than in their control. Lung function values, namely; FVC, FEV1, FEV1% and PEFR were not significantly different in the two groups. Street sweeping without precautionary measures may predispose to respiratory and non-respiratory symptoms.

Keywords: lung function, street sweepers, dust, symptoms, oxygen saturation

Nigerian Journal of Physiological Sciences Vol. 20(1&2) 2005: 79-84

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eISSN: 0794-859X