New Delhi: Nearly 97 per cent sanitation workers, 95 per cent waste-pickers, and 82 per cent security guards in the country are exposed to air pollution during their work, a study released on Friday (June 30) claimed. The study, conducted by Chintan environmental research and action group, is an assessment of the relationship between air pollution and incidence of respiratory illness for three essential occupational groups – waste-pickers, sanitation workers, and security guards.
The research further suggested that more than 60 per cent of sanitation workers, 50 per cent of waste-pickers and 30 per cent of security guards “did not know about PPE kits that could reduce their exposure (to pollution).”
The study said,
Abnormal pulmonary function results were recorded in 75 per cent waste-pickers, 86 per cent sanitation workers and 86 per cent security guards. In contrast, 45 per cent of participants of the control group had abnormal lung function.
“17 per cent waste-pickers, 27 per cent sanitation workers and 10 per cent security guards were found to be suffering from severe lung illnesses,” it added.
Based on the findings of the study, which was conducted in consultation with the three groups, and health and air pollution experts, the NGO has recommended provisions for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and training on the efficient use of PPE kits.
The study said,
Training on gargling after duty hours to effectively remove dust particles from nasal and throat cavities should be conducted. Hand and face washing facilities near place of work should be mandated and heated bottles should be provided during winters to reduce open burning.
For pollution management, it further suggested that sanitary inspectors should be delegated power to report and fine waste burning and usage of mechanised sweepers on larger arterial roads.
To limit exposure to pollution, the study suggested, work shifts should be changed during hazardous AQI. It added,
All resting places should be engineered at levels above the tail-pipe level of SUVs and there should be annual health check-ups as well.
Suggesting a few systematic shifts, the study said that composting must be mandated to prevent landfill fires and in-situ horticulture waste management systems should also be set up.
The study suggested,
Guidelines on occupational health protection must be issued by Swachh Bharat Mission. Drones and other imagery must be used to identify garbage burning and bioremediation strategies should be executed to prevent landfill fires.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF)status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.