By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: People occupationally exposed to coal mining and construction work are at a higher risk of losing their fertility levels including giving birth to children with congenital malformations.
Two different research studies conducted by the Human Genetics Laboratory in the Department of Zoology, Osmania University, and the Department of Environmental Toxicology, Institute of Genetics and Hospital for Genetic Diseases, Hyderabad, revealed that workers of coal mines and those exposed to cement concrete are more prone to abortions and low sperm quality. The incidence of stillbirth and neonatal deaths are also higher in these two groups of workers.
V Vijendar Reddy and C Jyothsna of Human Genetics Laboratory carried out a study on about 1000 workers employed in the coal industry. The research was conducted in the coal belt area in Godavarikhani of Singareni Collieries.
Since coal contains hydrocarbons which may give rise to polycyclic hydrocarbons during technological processes associated with open fire or temperature, constant exposure to such substances had led to genotoxicity among coal mine workers.
The researchers recorded data on the fertility and other reproductive end points in 1000 couples where males were occupationally exposed to coal. Data from 400 unexposed people belonging to same age group and not having any history of exposure to coal was collected and compared for analysis. The results on the reproductive epidemiology in coal mine workers indicated that there was decreased fertility and live birth in coal-exposed population as compared with those of the control group.
In another research study conducted by P Vidyullatha, B Sivaprasad and others of the Department of Environmental Toxicology, on 53 cement workers, exposed to concrete for longer periods, showed symptoms of skin irrigation, contact dermatitis, respiratory and other health problems.
What is surprising is that their fertility levels had gone down. Like coal workers, construction labour too showed higher frequency of stillbirths, neonatal deaths and premature births. A significant decrease in the frequency of live births was also observed in construction workers.
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