Indian labourers face health risks from contact with cement
Men and women labourers at construction sites who handle cement or are exposed to it are at high risk of contracting skin infections owing to the harmful chemicals it contains, a new study conducted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi has found.
The study, conducted by the AIIMS Department of Dermatology and Venereology along with Sweden’s Lund University, with key researchers being Dr KaushalVerma and Dr Magnus Bruze, found that major concentrations of chemicals like hexavalent chromium in cement can leads to skin problems like dermatitis, eczema, rashes and burning sensation, among others.
“At AIIMS, we have been seeing many patients working in the construction industry and had been suffering from major skin allergies. After we witnessed a rise in the number of patients with such cases we decided to conduct a study,” Dr Verma, Professor, Department of Dermatology and Venereology, AIIMS, told IANS.
Occupational skin diseases constitute an important burden among workers in the construction industry. As per the study, occupational exposure to cement can also cause skin reactions like cement burns, toxic paronychia, subungual necrosis, folliculitis and petechiae.
Seven to eight cement samples available in Indian market were considered for the study. Dr Verma said the study found that the potassium dichromate chemical, a major reason for skin allergies, was present in most of the samples.
As for initial symptoms, it begins with drying of skin and itching and later escalates to major allergies among those who have been working for two or more years in the construction industry.