Title: Occupational health hazards of the working group associated with municipal solid waste management at Kolkata in Eastern India

Authors: P.K. Selvi; Avinash B Akolkar; P. Saranya

Addresses: Central Pollution Control Board, East Arjun Nagar, Delhi 110 032, India. ' Central Pollution Control Board, East Arjun Nagar, Delhi 110 032, India. ' Centre for Biotechnology, Anna University Adyar, Chennai 600 025, Tamil Nadu, India

Abstract: The reasonable concern of many developing nations (India) is the presence of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) workers (ragpickers in particular) who scavenge garbage bins and landfill areas to salvage recyclable materials. In order to examine the health of the working group associated with MSW disposal, a study was conducted among the conservancy staff and ragpickers. The demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the ragpickers, conservancy staff and control subjects were compared through a questionnaire survey. Sputum, blood samples were collected to investigate sputum cytology, haematological changes and immunity of the working group. We found profound alterations in immune defence of ragpickers and conservancy workers. As a means of organising MSW management, the role of informal sector (that is MSW workers) in recycling resources was recognised in the latest Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011 that were regulated by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) in India.

Keywords: MSW; municipal solid waste; occupational health; health hazards; health impact study; India; conservancy staff; ragpickers; solid waste management; scavengers; sputum cytology; haematological changes; immunity; immune systems; recycling resources; plastic waste handling.

DOI: 10.1504/IJENVH.2012.049320

International Journal of Environment and Health, 2012 Vol.6 No.2, pp.141 - 154

Received: 20 Jan 2012
Accepted: 02 Apr 2012

Published online: 30 Sep 2012 *

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