Authors: P. Matatiele, L. Mochaki, B. Southon, B. Dabula, P. Poongavanum, B. Kgarebe

Source: AAS Open Res 2018, 1:20 (doi: 10.12688/aasopenres.12882.1)

Summary:  This report is an overview of requests for biological and environmental monitoring of hazardous chemicals, submitted to the National Institute for Occupational Health, Analytical Services Laboratory for testing from the years 2005 to 2015. The report discusses the nature of tests requested and implications for workers’ health and environment, as well as potential impact of the uncertainties associated with monitoring of hazardous chemicals. This is a retrospective, descriptive, qualitative and quantitative audit of all samples received and tests performed retrieved from records of analysis by the laboratory. The study sample consisted of 44,221 samples. The report indicates that throughout the interrogation period the demand for biological monitoring was higher than that for environmental monitoring, with more requests for toxic metals than organic pollutants. Toxic metal testing was highest for mercury, followed by manganese, lead, aluminium and arsenic. The highest number of tests for organic pollutants was conducted for pesticides followed by toluene and xylene. The study has also revealed that the scope of tests requested is rather narrow and does not reflect the broad spectrum of South Africa’s industrial diversity. Having identified possible reasons for underutilization, a number of reforms that could enhance the laboratory’s performance have been addressed.