Vol. 4, Issue 3 (2019)
Lead and cadmium levels in serum of Nigerian Rag-Pickers
Author(s): Adeoye AC, Akindele FB, Adebisi WN, Olude SS, Iyanda AA
Abstract: Rag-picking otherwise known as solid waste scavenging involves being in contact with harmful materials some of which may contain toxic metals, hence the need to assess heavy metal levels in rag-pickers. Participants consisted of 30 rag-pickers and 30 age/gender-matched individuals that served as control. Estimation of Cd and Pb was carried out by Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometry (AAS) in the serum obtained from 5 mL of blood collected from each participant. Questionnaire was administered to obtain information on demographic characteristics as well as occupation related factors. Statistical analysis was carried out using Student’s t test and Pearson’s correlation co-efficient. The level of significance was p≤0.05. Results of the study revealed significantly high levels of cadmium and lead in rag-pickers compared with control. A positive correlation between serum Cd and Pb was observed among rag-pickers but no correlation was observed in control subjects. Eighty-three percent of the rag-pickers were found not to be using personal protective equipment. In addition, 30% of rag- pickers possess Secondary School Certificate or higher education, 77% put in more than 35 hours per week, and 90% were living below poverty line. Results of the study indicate that when the use of personal protective gear is disregarded by rag-pickers, elevated concentrations of serum Cd and Pb may occur. Furthermore, results suggest high level of poverty and under-employment among Nigerians who hold rag-picking as full time job.
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