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Effect of Chronic Exposure to petroleum products on some Hematological and Biochemical parameters

A Akintonwa
B A Ojo
P Emeka
HAB Coker
O Sofola


The study reports the effect of chronic exposure to petrol on some haematological and biochemical parameters of filling station attendants. Investigation was conducted with self-administered questionnaires Analysis of the age distribution indicated that 42.9% of the attendants who have been exposed to petrol for a minimum period of 5 years were between ages 21-25years, while 25% of them were within 26-30 years of age. On the route of exposure, 56.0% are through inhalation, 24.0% through skin contact and 20% through the mouth.

The symptoms in petrol station attendants due to inhalation and skin exposures show that occurrence of abdominal pain, headache, eye irritation, dizziness and chest pain were 52.4, 47.7, 33.0, 26.4 and 21.2% respectively. The other symptoms include itchiness and difficulty in breathing. The symptoms due to oral exposure to petrol include constipation, nausea, watery stool, cough and chest pain in 42.6, 32.9, 33.1, 26.9 and 25.2 percent of the attendants respectively. The other symptoms include itching throat, increased sputum production and dizziness.

In the control subjects, the level of red blood cell (RBC) white blood cell (WBC), hemoglobin (Hb), packed cell +0.9x10 3mm3, 13.7+1.2g/dl, 41.2+2.6% and 296.7+5.4x10 3mm3 respectively. In petrol station attendants that were exposed by inhalation and through the skin, the levels of RBC, WBC, Hb, PCV and Platelets were 4.69+0.9x10 3mm3, 5.4+0.8x 3mm3, 11.7+0.7g/dl, 45.2+2.1% and 160.3+5.2x10 3mm3 respectively. There were no significant changes in blood levels of RBC, WBC, Hemoglobin and packed cell volume in the control subjects and in the petrol station attendants exposed to petrol by inhalation and oral route. There was a significant decrease of 43% in the platelet counts in the exposed attendants when compared with the control subjects. There was no significant difference in the level of platelets count between attendants exposed by oral route when compared with exposure by inhalation and skin.

Exposure to petrol seems to have little or no effect on biochemical parameters such as sodium, potassium, creatinine, bilirubin, alkaline phosphate, uric acid and urea. The increased SGPT and SGOT show indication of slight hepatotoxicity, which may be due to exposure to hydrocarbon.

The findings suggest that chronic exposure to petrol may have deleterious effects on the health of the filling station attendants but may have little or no effect on the red and white blood cell.

NQJHM Vol. 15 (2) 2005: pp. 77-82

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