Risk assessment of workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica in silica crushing units in Azandarian Industrial Zone, Hamadan, Iran
Introduction: Azandarian industrial zone with about 40 active silica crushing units is one of the largest industrial area in Hamadan province, Iran.
Materials and methods: In this study, the personal exposure of workers in the activated silica crushing units was measured. Assessing the risk of mortality due to exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) in the workplace was then estimated through measuring the personnel exposure in accordance with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) 7601 method. Moreover, the mortality rate of lung cancer and risk of mortality due to exposure to RCS were estimated.
Results: Based on the results, the average exposure of employees to RCS in the crushing units was in the range of 1.70 -0.14 mg/m3. As observed, the lowest and highest exposure was obtained for the admission unit and sandstone, respectively. In general, it can be inferred that in all studied occupation positions, the exposure level was higher than the recommended standard (0.25 mg/m3). As can be seen, the carcinogenic risk level for the exposed workers was in the range 2-26/1000. The results of risk assessment showed that the highest risk level was related to the stamping machine operator unit and the lowest was related to the administrative unit.
Conclusion: Therefore, the workers working in high-risk units such as stamping machine operator and stone separation operator are more likely to suffer from adverse health complications such as silicosis, lung cancer and other respiratory complications.