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Occupational and Environmental Health Hazards (Physical & Mental) Among Rag-Pickers in Mumbai Slums: A Cross-Sectional Study

Rag pickers are informal workers who collect recyclable materials to earn a small wage on daily basis. Their life and working conditions are extremely difficult. This paper examined the health status, occupational and environmental health hazards among rag-pickers working in dumping ground of Shivaji-Nagar and Govandi Slums of Mumbai, India. The cross-sectional study gathered data by interviewing 120 rag pickers during the Masters in Public Health course curriculum at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in the year 2012-13. The Occupational and environmental health (Physical & Mental) hazards were assessed using a standard self-reporting questionnaire. Convenient sampling was used to select the rag pickers from the slums of Mumbai. The study shows, rag-pickers suffer from physical as well as mental ill health. The reason for engaged in such kind of work is due to not having other skills and easy or daily income. Most of them are having habits such as tobacco-chewing and consumption. Dog bite and rat bite are common among Rag-pickers. Redness of eyes, headache, backache, accidental injuries are very common among Rag-pickers. Substance abuse itself is one of the mental disorders present among Rag-pickers. Majority of them are associated with mild depression and mild anxiety as common mental disorders. Rag pickers more frequently report physical and mental health problems. Improving the work lives of these precarious workers should address not only the physical hazards of their jobs but their mental and emotional health as well. Unfulfilled health needs of this underprivileged workforce who contributes to the ecology and economy of the city need to be addressed. Sensitization of both general public and government workforce is essential to legitimize this occupation. This in turn may help to alleviate poverty and environmental degradation which is occurring due to rapid and unplanned urbanization in India.

Rag Pickers, Slums, Mumbai, India, Environmental and Occupational Health Hazards, Physical & Mental Health Hazards

Balu Natha Mote, Suhas Balasaheb Kadam, Shrikant Kishorrao Kalaskar, Bharat Shivajirao Thakare, Ambadas Suresh Adhav, et al. (2016). Occupational and Environmental Health Hazards (Physical & Mental) Among Rag-Pickers in Mumbai Slums: A Cross-Sectional Study. Science Journal of Public Health, 4(1), 1-10.

Copyright © 2016 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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