Prevalence and determinants of mucous membrane irritations in a community near a cement factory in Zambia : a cross sectional study

11 Feb 2015

Exposure to cement dust has been associated with deleterious health effects in humans. This study investigated whether residing near a cement factory increases the risk of irritations to the mucous membranes of the eyes and respiratory system. A cross sectional study was conducted in Freedom Compound, a community bordering a cement factory in Chilanga, Zambia and a control community, Bauleni, located 18 km from the cement plant. A modified American Thoracic Society questionnaire was administered to 225 and 198 respondents aged 15–59 years from Freedom and Bauleni, respectively, to capture symptoms of the irritations. Respondents from Freedom Compound, were more likely to experience the irritations; adjusted ORs 2.50 (95% CI: 1.65, 3.79), 4.36 (95% CI (2.96, 6.55)) and 1.94 (95% CI (1.19, 3.18)) for eye, nose and sinus membrane irritations respectively. Cohort panel studies to determine associations of cement emissions to mucous membrane irritations and respiratory symptoms, coupled with field characterization of the exposure are needed to assess whether the excess prevalence of symptoms of mucous membrane irritations observed in Freedom compound are due to emissions from the cement factory.