Objectives To estimate the number and prevalence of occupational exposure to benzene in Brazil.
Method This study was carried out with the economic active population of Brazil, using 2010 Census data. Benzene data from the Finisth National Job-Exposure Matrix, FINJEM, by occupational groups and sex were used to estimate the weighted number and prevalence of occupational exposure to benzene in Brazil. Because of differences in the Brazilian and Finish occupational classification codes, an assessment of acceptance by occupational safety and health experts was also made.
Results From a total of 86 353 839 workers, 7 376 761 have jobs in occupations potentially exposed to benzene. Based on FINJEM parameters, approximately 778 025 workers were identified as probable exposed to benzene in their jobs, a weighted prevalence of 9.1/1000 workers, higher among men (11.2/1000) than among women (6.0/1000). Most of the benzene exposed workers were from the group of machine repair and engine mechanics (66%). The nine experts who ranked the occupational codes regrouping agreed with 97% of the proposed matches.
Conclusions Benzene is targeted by health surveillance in Brazil but little data are available on occupational exposure. Job-exposure matrix can be an useful tool for epidemiological monitoring of benzene exposure for surveillance purpose. There is a need to develop a JEM with national data thus making feasible the evaluation of the Benzene National Agreement impact on this exposure control and workers’ health.
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