Institute for Sustainability

Mining community's exposure to pollution

Investigating the links between mining community's exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollution and respiratory disease in Tanzania

Summary

The main risk factor for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is smoking but 20% of the people identified with COPD around the world do not have a history of smoking.  A lot of these maybe women in developing countries who cook using biomass fuels which gives them high exposure to particulate matter (PM), particularly if cooking is in indoor environments.  Also, occupational risks, such as mining, may be especially important in developing countries.

This project will elicit a history of smoking, respiratory disease, respiratory symptoms, and other potential exposure of interest, and assess pulmonary function with spirometry, on a representative population in rural Northern Tanzania.  Within this sample we will include miners and their families, including women who are exposed to biomass fuels when cooking. 

Miners' exposure to PM will be investigated with the use of portable monitoring instruments AM510. PM monitors will be installed in the kitchen and living areas of miners’ houses where PM levels will be recorded during cooking and other activities. Participants will be asked to maintain a time activity diary to link PM levels with particular types of activities. They will also be asked questions relating to previous exposure. Advanced statistical techniques will be applied to establish causal relationship between exposure to PM and effects on respiratory function.

This project will work in parallel with the grant received from the Trust in Science, Africa which has supported funding for the equipment required for this project.