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Air-borne pollen poses occupational health risks to gardeners: PU, PGIMER joint study


Chandigarh-based gardeners, who participated in PU and PGIMER’s joint study, reported health issues like shortness of breath, allergies and skin rash

Air-borne pollen poses occupational health risks to gardeners, a study conducted by Panjab University and the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) has revealed.

PGIMER professor Ravindra Khaiwal, PhD scholar Akshi Goyal and Dr Suman Mor, chairperson of PU’s department of environment studies, had conducted the study to assess the associated health risks among gardeners in Chandigarh due to occupational exposure to airborne pollen. The study has been recently published in the Environmental Science and Pollution Research journal.

The semi-structured, questionnaire-based survey was conducted among the gardeners of Chandigarh with the permission of the municipal corporation. The survey included staff of 26 gardens in the city, where 72.58% staffers fall under the plantsman (mali) category, 15.72% under grass cutters and 3.02% under headmali/supervisor. As many as 4.2%, 3.6% and 3.2% of the respondents in the categories, respectively, reported shortness of breath and other breathing problems.

Surprisingly, 3.2% of plantsmen (mali) mentioned that their breathing is never completely satisfactory. A few respondents reported allergies and skin rashes during grass cutting, especially Parthenium hysterophorus.

Khaiwal said the findings of the study would aid a better understanding of the working conditions and health status of occupational gardeners, as well as the development of appropriate methods to improve their working conditions.

Mor, meanwhile, highlighted that since a large proportion of gardeners were unaware of occupational hazards and pollen allergies in their workplaces, regulatory authorities must conduct formal health awareness and training/education sessions to minimise the exposure and associated risks.

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