Health impact assessment of auto rickshaw and cab drivers due to exposure to vehicular pollution in Delhi: an integrated approach


Vehicular emission is an important contributor to air pollution in the urban environment and impacts the health of commuters as well as drivers. The in-vehicle concentration of pollutants is known to be higher than the ambient environment and varies with the mode of transport. Thus, this study attempts to assess the health impacts of air pollution exposure on auto rickshaws and cab drivers. The study was conducted in Delhi using a triangular approach involving a health perception survey, lung function test and in-vehicle monitoring of particulate matter (PM1, PM2.5, PM10) concentration to assess the health impacts of air pollution on auto rickshaw and cab drivers. A total of 150 respondents (75 from each occupation) were surveyed, and spirometry was performed for 40 respondents (20 from each occupation). Binary logistic regression showed auto rickshaw drivers were exposed to significantly higher in-vehicle PM concentrations in summers and winters and, thus, had a significantly higher risk of developing respiratory, ophthalmic and dermatological health symptoms (p< 0.05 and relative risk >1). Pulmonary function test showed obstructive lung impairment was reported only among auto rickshaw drivers (6%) and restrictive lung impairment was also more prevalent among auto rickshaw drivers (48%) than cab drivers (33%), suggesting a greater vulnerability of auto rickshaw drivers to respiratory health issues. Lung function impairment was associated with age (p= 0.002). The health and well-being of individuals is a matter of global concern, also highlighted in sustainable development goal no. 3. However, it was observed that neither auto rickshaw drivers nor cab drivers used formal/standard protective measures mainly due to unawareness or unaffordability. The study suggests increasing awareness and formulating guidelines to highlight the use of proper protective measures by these vulnerable groups and specific policy measures to protect outdoor workers like auto rickshaw drivers.

Authors: Suresh Jain, Vaishnavi Barthwal
; Full Source: Environmental science and pollution research international 2021 Aug 20. doi: 10.1007/s11356-021-16058-9.