Sewage contains numerous toxic substances which include poisonous gases and infective
agents. As a consequence of this, sewer workers often suffer from a constellation of
symptoms known as the sewer worker’s syndrome. Very limited data on the occupational
health and safety status of sewage workers is available in India. A cross-sectional study
was conducted in Delhi involving 200 sewage workers and their health profile was
studied using standard procedures. It was found that majority of workers have had cuts
or injuries, experienced irritation of eyes and suffered from skin rashes. One-fifth of
workers reported syncope, and some temporary loss of consciousness. The other major
chronic symptoms included headache (48.5%), skin rashes (45.5%), skin irritation
(41.5%) and body ache (41.5%). 8.5% had raised white blood cell count, 11.7% showed
raised ESR than normal and 30.2% had mild restrictive respiratory changes while 20.7%
showed changes ranging from moderate to severe restriction or obstruction. The study
concluded that sewage workers are suffering from high morbidity and need urgent
attention for the health and safety programs and training focusing more on preventive
measures and change in their life style.
Keywords: Sewer workers syndrome, Sewer, Occupational problem, Eosinophilia
Reference: Ashish Mittal, Pranjal J. Goswami, J. Kishore, J. John. Health
Status of Sewage workers in Delhi.
RR: Journal of Medicine. 2013; 3 (1): 17-24.