Original Article | Published:

Personal exposure to asbestos and respiratory health of heavy vehicle brake mechanics

Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology volume 25, pages 2636 (2015) | Download Citation

Abstract

Asbestos brake linings and blocks are currently used in heavy vehicle brake repair shops (BRSs) in Bogotá, Colombia. Some brake products are sold detached from their supports and without holes, requiring manipulation before installation. The aim of this study was to assess asbestos exposures and conduct a preliminary evaluation of respiratory health in workers of heavy vehicles in BRSs. To estimate asbestos exposures, personal and area samples were collected in two heavy vehicle BRSs. Each shop was sampled during six consecutive days for the entire work shift. Personal samples were collected on 10 workers including riveters, brake mechanics, and administrative staff. Among workers sampled, riveters had the highest phase contrast microscopy equivalent (PCME) asbestos concentrations, with 8-h time-weighted average (TWA) personal exposures ranging between 0.003 and 0.157 f/cm3. Respiratory health evaluations were performed on the 10 workers sampled. Three workers (30%) had circumscribed pleural thickening (pleural plaques), with calcifications in two of them. This finding is strongly suggestive of asbestos exposure. The results of this study provide preliminary evidence that workers in heavy vehicle BRSs could be at excessive risk of developing asbestos-related diseases.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the owners, administrative staff, brake mechanics, and riveters from the BRSs sampled. We also thank the Research Vice-presidency, the School of Engineering, and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering from Universidad de Los Andes for their financial support. The collaboration received from the staff of Fundación Neumológica Colombiana and the Radiology Department in Fundación Cardioinfantil in Bogotá is also greatly appreciated. Finally, we thank Forensic Analytical Laboratories for the analysis of the samples. All the equipment used to assess exposure was acquired with the financial support of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering from Universidad de Los Andes. Laboratory analysis and respiratory health evaluations were performed with the financial support of the Research Vice-presidency, the School of Engineering, and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering from Universidad de Los Andes.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia

    • María Fernanda Cely-García
    •  & Juan P Ramos-Bonilla
  2. Research Department, Fundación Neumológica Colombiana, Bogotá, Colombia

    • Carlos A Torres-Duque
    •  & Patricia Parada
  3. Medical Department, Fundación Neumológica Colombiana, Bogotá, Colombia

    • Carlos A Torres-Duque
    •  & Mauricio Durán
  4. School of Medicine, Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia

    • Olga Lucía Sarmiento
  5. Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

    • Patrick N Breysse

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Competing interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Juan P Ramos-Bonilla.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/jes.2014.8

Supplementary Information accompanies the paper on the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology website (http://www.nature.com/jes)

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