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Year : 2007  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 84-89

Effect of organo- phosphorus compounds on plasma cholinesterase levels in industrial and non-industrial workers in Port Harcourt

Department of Chemical Pathology, University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
C G Orluwene
Department of Chemical Pathology, University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Port Harcourt
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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BACKGROUND: Port Harcourt is a city with a high concentration of companies (Industries) using organo-phosphorus compounds with workers who have been exposed to these compounds for varying lengths of time. This study looks at the effects of exposure to these compounds on the health of these workers relative to the control group by measuring the plasma cholinesterase activity of the workers and the control group. METHODS: In this prospective study, 200 subjects were selected from the companies in Port Harcourt (40 from each of five companies using organo-phosphorus compounds) and 50 controls selected from the state secretariat complex. The subjects in each of the five companies were again subdivided into "directly exposed" and "non-exposed". Among the "exposed" a group of workers who had worked in the organo-phosphorous unit for more than four years (prolonged exposure) were sorted out. The popular kinetic colorimetric method using Butyrylthiocholine with liquid reagents was used for measuring plasma cholinesterase activity. RESULTS: Results obtained showed significant reduction in the plasma cholinesterase activity of subjects exposed to organo-phosphorous compounds (5466+/-948) when compared with the control group (8042+/-1011) P<0.05. This reduction was more marked in those subjects who had been exposed to organo-phosphorus compounds for more than 4 years (4614+/-532) P<0.05. There was no significant difference in the mean plasma cholinesterase activity between the "non-exposed" company workers (8133+/-1635) and the control (8042+/-1011) P>0.05. CONCLUSION: Exposure to organo-phosphorus compounds causes reduction in the plasma cholinesterase activity and this reduction is directly related to the duration of exposure.

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