PM2.5, RESPIRATORY HEALTH RISK AND IL-6 LEVELS AMONG WORKERS AT A MODERN BUS TERMINAL IN KUALA LUMPUR
Background: A recent study in Taipei found that the levels of PM2.5 in a bus terminal were 1.6 to 1.8 times higher than in the urban background and were far above the permissible exposure limits (PEL). Since there has been no such research conducted in Malaysia, the present study aims to assess the level of PM2.5 in a new bus terminal in Kuala Lumpur and to measure the possible respiratory health risk of the workers.
Materials and Methods: Fifty workers were selected randomly to participate in lung function tests. Their urine samples were taken to measure the concentration of IL-6, an indicator for inflammatory response. The IUALTD Questionnaires were distributed to study participants to assess their bronchial symptoms. The 8-hours average of PM2.5 levels were measured at three different locations.
Result: Findings indicated that the highest level of PM2.5 was found at the boarding area (32.19µg/m3) followed by at the ticketing counter (31.61µg/m3). Both levels were above the PEL and approximately 6 times higher than that level found at the administrative office (5.44µg/m3). The prevalence of cough among workers in both areas was twice (32%) as high as those workers in the administrative office (16%). Among non-office workers, 38% showed an abnormal lung function of FEV1% predicted. The lung function (FEV1/FVC) was found to have a moderate strength of significant association with IL-6 levels (r=0.31).
Conclusion: This is a new and among the most modernised bus terminal in Malaysia but findings of the present study indicated workers at the bus terminal were at risk to get respiratory illnesses due to occupational particulates exposure. Therefore, appropriate control measures, and awareness programmes are warranted among these workers and management of the bus terminal.Keywords: Bus terminal, PM2.5, lung function test, IL-6, bronchial symptoms