Brick kiln workers’ health at risk

Exposure to dust particles, smoke, carbondioxide has made them susceptible

Kathmandu, December 7

A recent research conducted on 20 brick kilns of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur has revealed that brick kiln workers are at high risk of respiratory diseases such as pneumonia and asthma.

Among the 400 brick kiln workers, a total of 159 participants had suffered from flu one month prior to the survey. Meanwhile, 91 participants (22.8 per cent) had pneumonia.

The research conducted by Resource Centre for Primary Health Care revealed that 75.5 per cent participants were not aware of chronic diseases. The research also revealed that workers were susceptible to body aches and joint pain because they had to carry heavy loads.

“As brick kiln workers have to work with dust and smoke, they are likely to suffer from respiratory illnesses such as asthma, chronic cough, chronic bronchitis, and wheezing, said Dr Kedar Narsingh KC, chest physician.

Dust particles and carbon dioxide from the burning of bricks impacts the health of brick kiln workers and the public. “People are likely to suffer from bronchitis and asthma. Long-term exposure to such particles lead to hypertension, cardiac problems and cancer. Also, exposure to such particles lead to skin problems such as irritation of skin and allergies,” Dr KC added

“The research was conducted to know the health status of workers in brick kilns. It was also conducted to find information regarding occupational safety,” said Purna Duwal, a researcher.

From among the participants, 75.5 per cent did not know about chronic health impacts of dust and smoke.

Meanwhile, 61.8 per cent of the participants knew about the importance of wearing mask. “Though brick kiln workers were given masks to prevent exposure to dust particles and smoke, they did not use them as ordinary masks made breathing difficult,” said Duwal. The research team has recommended that special masks be provided to enable workers to breathe easily. It has also recommended that new tools and equipment be used in brick kilns to lessen the smoke and its health hazards.

The research also revealed that 69.5 per cent brick kiln workers had to spend their own money on treatment.

“Immediate action should be taken to reduce brick kiln workers’ exposure to smoke and dust,” said Dr KC.