For people who work in an environment where many salt particles hang in the air, it’s possible to breathe one’s way to high blood pressure, an occupational-health study shows.
Kripa Haldiya and his colleagues at the Desert Medicine Research Centre in Jodhpur, India, offered medical checkups to 758 workers at salt mills in Rajasthan. The mills produce salt by extracting it from brine.
Some of the workers collected salt from open-air evaporation beds. The majority, however, processed dry salt indoors. Crushing, grinding, milling, and packing the substance can loft salt particles into the air.
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Of the indoor contingent of workers, 12 percent had high blood pressure. Only 7 percent of the outdoor workers had that problem, the researchers reported on July 25 in the online journal Environmental Health: A Global Access Science Source (http://www.ehjournal.net).
The team outfitted a few workers with protective equipment, including face masks, and monitored their blood pressure daily. They observed a decline in pressure during the 6 days that the workers wore the gear. Simple measures such as wearing face masks could protect the health of the salt workers, the researchers suggest.