Evaluation of Benzene and Toluene Levels Released into the Breathing Zone of Spray Painters Working in Small Scale Informal Auto-Garage, in Embakasi, Nairobi, Kenya
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Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are both naturally occurring as well as man-made chemicals. They range from harmless, to highly mutagenic and carcinogenic types. Benzene and toluene are among the widely used VOCs as solvents and diluents in products such as paints and aerosols. Lack of exposure control to benzene and toluene in the informal auto garages may lead to spray painters’ risk of acquiring ill-health symptoms associated with benzene and toluene exposure. Depending on method of application and control measures applied during auto spray painting in small scale informal auto garages, uncontrolled and a high amount of benzene and toluene may be released into the ambient air and into the breathing zone of the spray painters. The aim of this study was therefore, to evaluate the levels of benzene and toluene compounds in the ambient air and especially the levels emitted in the breathing zone of the spray painters in small scale informal auto garages, through a cross-sectional method of study. The study population was composed of twenty nine (29) spray painters randomly selected from one hundred and ten (110) spray painters in the study area. The benzene and toluene compounds were collected by use of Gastec passive colour dosimeter tubes placed near the breathing zone of spray painters during spraying process. The average amounts of benzene and toluene were 73.46ppm and 61.22ppm respectively, against WHO’s recommended maximum of 0.5ppm for benzene and 50ppm for toluene. The amounts of benzene and toluene were significantly high, (P = 0.0001) and (P = 0.001) respectively. T-test was used to compare the means of various variables in the study. The study concluded that there was a high concentration of benzene and toluene released in the breathing zone of spray painters during spray painting exercise and, recommended the results to guide policy on benzene and toluene exposure control and awareness creation among the auto spray painters.