Respiratory functions of conservancy workers working in solid waste management sector of Chennai, India

  • Roopa S
  • Padmavathi R
  • Akolkar A
  • et al.
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Chennai is the fourth largest metropolitan city in India. Around 10,000 conservancy workers of the Chennai Corporation handle about 4500 to 5200 tons of solid wastes per day. These workers are exposed to a lot of environmental and occupational hazards affecting the respiratory system. This paper presents the results of pulmonary function assessment in 178 conservancy workers (100 sweepers & 78 loaders) of the Chennai Corporation. Detailed medical and occupational history was obtained and clinical examination was performed after obtaining informed consent. Pulmonary functions (forced vital capacity [FVC], forced expiratory volume in 1 second [FEV1] and peak expiratory flow rate [PEFR]) were measured using a portable spirometer. Since normal pulmonary function values for healthy non-smoking South Indian adults are available through previously published studies, the pulmonary function test (PFT) values from the study group were compared with the predicted values after corrections for age and anthropometry. The pulmonary functions of the conservancy workers were significantly lower than their predicted values. Moreover, the pulmonary functions declined with increasing years of working. Among both the groups of conservancy workers, the pulmonary functions were significantly lower in sweepers than loaders (P<0.01). This study has generated lung function data of the Chennai Corporation conservancy workers that can aid the concerned authorities to implement specific interventions to reduce the exposure and improve the health status of the workers.




Roopa, S., Padmavathi, R., Akolkar, A., Sankar, S., Ravishankar, P., Vijayalakshmi, T., … Kalpana, B. (2012). Respiratory functions of conservancy workers working in solid waste management sector of Chennai, India. F1000Research, 1, 67.

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