Respiratory health in artisanal cobalt mine workers: A cross-sectional study in the Katangan copperbelt


  • Joseph Pyana Kitenge Université de Lubumbashi, DR Congo; KULeuven, Belgium
  • Paul Musa Obadia Université de Lubumbashi, DR Congo; KULeuven, Belgium,
  • Trésor Carsi Kuhangana Université de Kolwezi, DR Congo
  • André Nyongoni Université de Lubumbashi, DR Congo

Mots-clés :

Artisanal Miners, cobalt mining, Respiratory health, Katanga, DRCongo


Background : A considerable proportion of the cobalt mined in the former Katanga province is extracted from artisanal mines with little regard for occupational safety and health. We investigated respiratory health of a group of artisanal miners.

Methodology : In a cross-sectional study (March to May 2021), we included 111 male artisanal miners in Kolwezi (Tshabula, UCK and Kamilombe) and 97 controls (male taxi-bus drivers in Lubumbashi). Participants replied to a validated questionnaire (ECRHS II), administered face-to-face, and performed spirometry and pulse oximetry at the work place. Statistical analysis was performed with SPSS version 24.

Results : The artisanal miners and controls did not differ by age (34.0±8.0y vs 35.9±9.8y), BMI (23.3±2.6 vs 22.8±3.5), or current smoking (68% vs 55%), but a history of pulmonary tuberculosis was more frequently reported by miners (11/111) than taxi drivers (2/97). Nasal/ocular symptoms (including epistaxis) and lower airway symptoms in the past 12 months were significantly more prevalent among artisanal miners (75-97% and 10-96%, respectively) than among controls (1-2% and 1-6%, respectively). However, the groups did not differ significantly with regard to mean spirometric parameters or baseline SaO2.

Conclusion: This first step in our investigations of respiratory health among artisanal miners revealed a very high prevalence of reported respiratory symptoms but without detectable functional impact in this young population recruited during work. Effort must be done in DR Congo to protect mine workers to work-related diseases.


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Comment citer

Joseph Pyana Kitenge, Paul Musa Obadia, Trésor Carsi Kuhangana, & André Nyongoni. (2023). Respiratory health in artisanal cobalt mine workers: A cross-sectional study in the Katangan copperbelt. Revue Africaine De Médecine Et De Santé Publique, 159–160. Consulté à l’adresse