0008 Occupational epidemiology of health risks and chemical exposures among small scale miners in the philippines

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Abstract

The study investigated occupational hazards in small scale mining in Benguet, Philippines which is one of the largest mining areas in the country. The study studied 40 small scale industries, and collected 40 water samples (potable) for cyanide and mercury which are used in mining. Questionnaire-guided interviews and work analysis covering mining practices and risk exposures were conducted, as well as chemical analysis through gas chromatography. Results of the study showed unsafe conditions in the industries such as risk of fall during erection and dismantling of scaffolds, guard rails were not provided in scaffoldings, manual extraction of underground ores, use of explosives, poor visibility in looking for ores to take out to surface, exposure to noise from explosives, and to dust from the demolished structures. Mine waste was drained into soil or ground and/or rivers and streams. The most common health problems among miners were hypertension (62%), followed by hypertensive cardiovascular disease due to left wall ischemia (14%). Health symptoms such as dermatitis, and peripheral neuropathy were noted and these can be considered as manifestations of chronic cyanide poisoning, further, aggravated by improper use of protective equipment. For the environmental samples of potable water, 88% and 98% were positive with mercury and cyanide respectively. About 52% of drinking water samples exceeded the TLV for mercury while 2% exceeded the TLV for cyanide. There is a need to establish programs on miners’ occupational and environmental health and safety, and the community.

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