Objectives: Assess the exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs)in furniture handicraft factories workers in two populations of Sucre (Sincelejo and Sampués), North of Colombia.Identify possible signs and/or symptoms related to exposure to these contaminants.
Methods: This was an analytical cross sectional study (2011), using a questionnaire. Study population consisted of 66 individuals, 41 exposed and 25 controls. Personal samples were collected for concentration quantifying of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes (both groups) and contrasting them with health effects possible attributed to these contaminants.
Results: The concentrations of benzene, toluene and m/p-xylene were higher in the exposed group (9.5 mg/m(3), 8.1 mg/m(3) and 12.1 mg/m(3))compared with the control group (0.2 mg/m(3), 0.3 mg/m(3) and 0.03 mg/m(3)). Muscular pain 82.9 % (PR=3.8; CI95%:1.2-11.8) and somnolence 65.9 % (PR=4.9; CI95%:1.7-14.7)were associated with a higher exposure.Factor such as mixtures of solvents (thinner) in the work and vehicles' traffic can contribute to these results.
Conclusions: Several sources contribute to increases personal exposure of VOCs in furniture handicraft factories workers North of Colombia. Additionally, excessive use of these compounds may be generating adverse effects on the health of workers.