Fluoride Action Network


Frequent and repetitive activities in job and awkward postures are shown as major contributors of musculoskeletal problems in most of the occupational health studies; however, efforts to explore newer risk factor are important to plan interventional measures. In this backdrop, this study examined contribution of fluoride exposure to musculoskeletal complaints. A cross-sectional interviewer-administered questionnaire survey was conducted involving 180 randomly selected subjects from a metal smelting industry. Clinical examination of the subjects was also performed to assess their health status and morbidity details. Assessment of personal exposure to particulate and gaseous fluoride at workplace was conducted. Urinary fluoride level was also examined in post-shift samples collected from study subjects. The mean age of the study subjects was 39.1 (±6.7) years. Majority of the workers (42.5%) were engaged in pot room. About 54% workers were suffering from backache and 66% subjects had joint pain. Exposure of workers to both particulate and gaseous fluoride and post-working shift urinary fluoride level was significantly higher in pot-room workers in comparison with all other workers. It was observed that age (odds ratio (OR): 1.62; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.18-2.34), drinking untreated water (OR: 1.51; 95% CI: 1.03-2.76), working in pot room (OR: 1.44; 95% CI: 1.13-1.91) and urinary fluoride level (OR: 2.71; 95% CI: 1.81-3.75) had significant effects on musculoskeletal complaints. This study concludes that along with other predictors such as nature of work, posture at work and age of worker, exposure to fluoride also has significant role in the occurrence of musculoskeletal morbidity.