Since tannery workers in developing countries are chronically exposed to high levels of chromium (Cr), there are serious concerns about health problems. However, there has been limited study in which Cr levels were measured in tannery workers, who are chronically exposed to Cr. Our preliminary inspection showed that there was hyperpigmented skin in tannery workers. We therefore investigated the correlation between skin pigmentation levels digitally evaluated as L* values by using a reflectance spectrophotometer and Cr levels in skin appendages in 100 male tannery workers and in 49 male non-tannery workers in Bangladesh. Digitalized skin pigmentation levels of the face and feet in addition to Cr levels in hair and toenails in tannery workers were significantly higher than those in non-tannery workers in our univariate analysis. Spearman's rank correlation coefficient analysis showed significant correlation between duration of tannery work (years)and Cr levels in hair (r = 0.62)and toenails (r = 0.61). Our multivariate analysis also showed that Cr levels in hair and toenails were significantly correlated with digitalized skin pigmentation levels of the face and feet in addition to duration of tannery work in all participants. Thus, our results showed the development of hyperpigmented skin in tannery workers. Our results also suggested that hyperpigmented skin could be a useful diagnostic marker for chronic exposure to Cr. Furthermore, cutaneous L* value might be a convenient marker for detection of chronic Cr poisoning, since the digitalized values enable objective evaluation of skin pigmented levels by general people as well as dermatologists.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Engineering
- Environmental Chemistry
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis