Reproduktiewe gesondheid van vroulike werknemers in 'n petrochemiese fabriek / Mariaan Francina du Toit
Du Toit, Mariaan Francina
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Sasol Sinthetic Fuels (SSF) run the world's largest commercially successful, coal bassed, synthetic fuel production in Secunda, Mpumalanga. The products that are produced bu SSF, consist out of liquid fuel, pipeline gas, and large varieties of chemical- and polymeer products. With the processing of fuels, a lot of chemicals are being used at the different plants. At each plant a lot of chemicals are added or deducted from the process. Gaseous releases are released during the coal liquefying process at outlet processes, by-product recovering, dumping, waste handling, carbonated gas removal, sulphate recovering, and power generating. Because the exposure to chemical substances may have harmful effects on the human body, it is necessary to try to control exposure. To find out to which extend the female workers at SASOL have been exposed to chemical substances in the environment, personal exposure reports were used. The reports were collected from the Occupational Hygiene Department at SASOL and analysed. The personal exposure concentrations to the different substances were compared with the Time Limit Values (TLV), as established by the ACGIH. The personal exposure concentrations are compared to the reproduction guideline values, which indicate reproduction toxicity, as well. Values higher than the established values, can be indicative of reproduction toxicity (Jankovic & Drake, 1996:54) A floor plan of SASOL was used to establish the area from which women were chosen to participate in the study. The middle area of SASOL was identified from where the experimental group came from for the study. The middle area was chosen, because this is the area where most of the women are localised. All the women in this chosen area were used for the study. A questionnaire was compiled with the help of Dr. W. Van Wyk, Dr. W.P. Labuschagne and Mr. P.J. Laubscher. The type of questions that were asked in the questionnaire, were about abnormalities gynaecologists experienced in Secunda and abnormalities that were described in the literature. Because a whole population of female workers were studied, the study made use of practical significance. Statistic significance was only used to compare the different groups of women that were used for the study. The program that was used for statistical processing of the data was the SAS system for Windows Release 6.12,1996. One-way and two-way tables were composed. The one-way tables indicate the frequency of the different types of questions that are asked and the two-way tables compare the answers of the questions with one another. The tables and graphs were done with the EXCELL-Program. Results that came forward from out the study are the following: Ammonia, benzene, ethyl benzene, hexane, cresol, mercury, methanol, mesitilene, methyl ethyl, ketone, naphthalene, phenol, pentane, coal dust, toluene, hydrogen cyanide, octane, and xylene are the different substances for which there have been measurements made at the different plants. In the overall, all the exposure levels for these substances were lower than the established TLV values. Substances which did exceed the TLV values, were ammonia, benzene, mercury, toluene, and hydrogencyanide. The effective exposure value persentage (EEV%) for these substances were 183%, 11 7%, 1500%, 1 1%, and 3 17%. A worker ought not to be exposed to more than a 100% EEV. It is for this reason that mercury and hydrogencyanide exposure holds in a definitive risk to exposed workers. The EEV% is worked out for substances for which there were reproduction guideline values available. From these calculations the founding was that benzene, toluene, xylene, coaldust, and mercury had very high EEV%'s. the different values were as follow: 2900%, 21 9%, 1200%, 1 19%, and 3 100%. These substances hold in a definitive potential to have harmful effects on female reproduction. From the questionnaires that were used during this study, the founding is that female workers at SASOL experience reproduction abnormalities. The abnormalities are miscarriages, low birth weight babies, early births, and menstrual abnormalities. If the EEV% are compared with the questionnaire's results, the following conclusion can be made: Female workers that are exposed to benzene, toluene, xylene, coal dust, and mercury experience more miscarriages, low birth weight babies, early births, and menstrual abnormalities than non-exposed women.
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