Assessment of exposure to cobalt and its compounds in Italian industrial settings Occupational exposure to cobalt

Main Article Content

Alberto Scarselli
Davide Di Marzio
Sergio Iavicoli

Keywords

Carcinogenic risk, Exposure assessment, Prevention database, Occupational health, Surveillance systems

Abstract

Background: Adverse health effects of occupational exposure to cobalt and its compounds are well-documented. Objectives: The aim of the study is to evaluate exposures to cobalt in Italian industrial settings. Methods: Data on cobalt and its compounds were collected from an occupational exposure registry. Statistical analysis was carried out for some exposure-related variables (i.e., cobalt compound, activity sector, occupational group, firm size). The number of workers potentially exposed was estimated for selected industrial sectors. Results: Overall 1,701 measurements were analyzed in the period 1996-2016. The geometric mean of cobalt airborne concentration was 0.33 µg/m3. Most exposures occurred in the manufacture of fabricated metal products (50%) and among metal finishing-, plating- and coating-machine operators (42%). A total of 30,401 workers potentially exposed to cobalt was estimated, over 72% were male. Conclusions: Identifying professional groups at high-risk of exposure can help to control the most dangerous situations for workers’ health. Surveillance systems based on occupational exposure registries contribute to support systematic improvement of working conditions.

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