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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(1), 140; doi:10.3390/ijerph13010140

Heart Rate, Stress, and Occupational Noise Exposure among Electronic Waste Recycling Workers

1
Department of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Michigan, 1415 Washington Heights 6611 SPH I, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
2
Department of Biological, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Ghana-Legon, P.O. Box LG 13, Legon, Ghana
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Kim Natasha Dirks
Received: 17 November 2015 / Revised: 4 January 2016 / Accepted: 14 January 2016 / Published: 19 January 2016
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Abstract

Electronic waste (e-waste) is a growing occupational and environmental health issue around the globe. E-waste recycling is a green industry of emerging importance, especially in low-and middle-income countries where much of this recycling work is performed, and where many people’s livelihoods depend on this work. The occupational health hazards of e-waste recycling have not been adequately explored. We performed a cross-sectional study of noise exposures, heart rate, and perceived stress among e-waste recycling workers at a large e-waste site in Accra, Ghana. We interviewed 57 workers and continuously monitored their individual noise exposures and heart rates for up to 24 h. More than 40% of workers had noise exposures that exceeded recommended occupational (85 dBA) and community (70 dBA) noise exposure limits, and self-reported hearing difficulties were common. Workers also had moderate to high levels of perceived stress as measured via Cohen’s Perceived Stress Scale, and reported a variety of symptoms that could indicate cardiovascular disease. Noise exposures were moderately and significantly correlated with heart rate (Spearman’s ρ 0.46, p < 0.001). A mixed effects linear regression model indicated that a 1 dB increase in noise exposure was associated with a 0.17 increase in heart rate (p-value = 0.01) even after controlling for work activities, age, smoking, perceived stress, and unfavorable physical working conditions. These findings suggest that occupational and non-occupational noise exposure is associated with elevations in average heart rate, which may in turn predict potential cardiovascular damage. View Full-Text
Keywords: electronic waste recycling; occupational health; noise exposure; stress; heart rate electronic waste recycling; occupational health; noise exposure; stress; heart rate
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Burns, K.N.; Sun, K.; Fobil, J.N.; Neitzel, R.L. Heart Rate, Stress, and Occupational Noise Exposure among Electronic Waste Recycling Workers. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13, 140.

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