Assessment of lung function and pulmonary disorders among women involved in palm kernel oil processing in Cape Coast, Ghana

Daniel Acquah, Francis T. Djankpa, Josephine Afful, Oscar A. Opoku, Akwasi Anyanful


Background: Does exposure to methods employed during local palm kernel oil processing affect lung function and increase pulmonary disorders in the women processors? Fifty test participants from palm kernel processing sites constantly exposed to processing hazards and fifty unexposed women from the general population in Cape Coast, Ghana were used for the study.

Methods: Participants after filling questionnaires were subject to clinical chest examination, anthropometry and spirometry. Data were analyzed descriptively using percentages, means, standard deviation and inferentially using independent sample t-test and chi-square test.

Results: Exposed participants complained of respiratory symptoms such as chest pain, phlegm production, burning and tearing of eyes and skin irritations. Chest examination also revealed significant reduced air entry and increase in bronchial and bronchovesicular sounds. Spirometry showed significant decreases in Forced Expiratory Volume in the first second (FEV1) and Forced Vital Capacity (FVC), with increase in restrictive lung disorders in the exposed participants (p<0.05). Chi-square analysis further showed association between length of exposure to emissions from processing and increased lung disorder.

Conclusions: Our study shows that the methods employed in palm kernel processing sites coupled with lack of hazardous knowledge and use of protective equipment exposes the women extractors to pollutants which results in increased respiratory symptoms, decreased lung function and significant presence of lung disorders.


Forced vital capacity, Forced expiration volume, Palm kernel processing, Pulmonary function, Spirometry

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