IJERPH, Vol. 17, Pages 2240: Respiratory Health in a Community Living in Close Proximity to Gold Mine Waste Dumps, Johannesburg, South Africa (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
The effects on respiratory health in populations living close to silica-rich gold mine dumps are unknown. This pilot study related respiratory health and exposure to mine dump dust using two measures of exposure: exposure group, based on distance lived from the mine dump—high (n = 93) (home <500 m from a mine dump), moderate (n = 133) (500–1.5 km), and low (n = 84) (>15 km, control group); and cumulative exposure index (CEI) derived from exposure group and number of years of residence in each exposure group. Participants were interviewed about respiratory symptoms and had chest X-rays and spirometry. We adjusted for key respiratory confounders. No subject had radiological features of silicosis. The high relative to low exposure group had significantly elevated adjusted odds ratios (aORs) for upper respiratory symptoms (aOR: 2.76, 95% CI: 1.28–5.97), chest wheezing (aOR: 3.78; 95% CI: 1.60–8.96), and spirometry-diagnosed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (aOR: 8.17; 95%CI: 1.01–65.85). These findings were similar for the high relative to medium exposure group, but no significant associations were found for the medium versus low exposure group. Chronic bronchitis and tuberculosis risks did not differ significantly among groups. CEI and exposure group produced similar results. In conclusion, residents residing <500 m from mine dumps had elevated adverse respiratory health effects.