Occupational Health and the Impact of Long-Term Formaldehyde Exposure on Health Professionals in Calabar, Nigeria

Euphoria C. Akwiwu, Chinyere A.O. Usoro, Josephine O. Akpotuzor, Maisie H. Etukudo


This research was carried out among persons occupationally exposed to formaldehyde in Calabar metropolis with a view to evaluating occupational health and by extension safety. Eighty eight male and female subjects comprising anatomists, medical laboratory attendants, medical laboratory scientists and morticians occupationally exposed to formaldehyde in this locality were enrolled in the study. Another group of eighty eight age and sex-matched individuals without formaldehyde exposure served as control subjects. Participants were between 24-52 years of age with job duration ranging up to 18 years. Informed consent was obtained from all enrolled subjects. A structured questionnaire was utilized to capture the bio-data and other pertinent information on work place exposure including allergic reactions experienced during work. Alpha-Fetoprotein (AFP), Total Protein (TP), Albumin and White blood cell (WBC) count were estimated. The measurement of AFP was by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, TP and Albumin were assayed by colourimetric methods, while WBC count was performed by automation. Itching, watery eyes and sneezing were part of the allergic reactions experienced by exposed persons. While AFP (2.66±1.76 ng/L) was significantly increased (p<0.05), TP (64.30±8.00 g/L), Albumin (30.80±5.50 g/L) and WBC (4.71±1.03×109/L) were significantly reduced (p<0.05) in persons occupationally exposed to formaldehyde compared to control subjects (1.58±0.84ng/L, 68.30±7.70g/L, 35.10±4.60g/L and 6.23±1.56×109/L respectively). Participants in this study with occupational exposure to formaldehyde were further grouped into three on the basis of duration on their jobs; 0-5 years, 6-10 years and above 10 years. The measured parameters varied with duration of exposure. Findings from this study point towards possible formaldehyde toxicity among exposed persons, particularly those with long term exposure.

Keywords: Formaldehyde, toxicity

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3186 ISSN (Online)2225-0921

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