Health Hazards of Stone Crusher Workers in Rajapalayam Taluk–A Case Study
Stone Crushing unit is an important industrial sector in the country engaged in producing of various sizes depending upon the requirement which acts as raw material for various construction activities such as construction of Roads, Highways, Bridges, Buildings and Canals etc. It is estimated that there are over 12,000 stone crusher units in India. In India, the Stone Crushing Industrial sector is estimated to have an annual turnover of Rs.5000 crore (equivalent to over US$ 1 billion) and is therefore an economically important sector. This sector is estimated to be providing direct employment to over 500,000 people engaged in various activities such as mining, crushing plant, transportation of mined stones and crushed products etc. Most of these personnel working in stone crushing units are from rural and economically backward areas where employment opportunities are limited and therefore it carries greater significance in terms of social importance in rural areas. It is a source of earning for uneducated, poor and unskilled rural people. Employing modern technology and mass production of crushed stone will create enormous amount of dust and spread through air and contribute air pollution. In haling of polluted air with fine dust particles affects the health of the workers working in stone crushing units in particular and common people in general. It not only affects the health of human beings but also it will affect the growth of agricultural crops, contaminate the fertility of the soil and makes the land unfit for cultivation. Even though the stone crushing units contribute more to employment opportunities both directly and indirectly, skilled and unskilled employment to both the rural and urban people, at the same time we can’t forget its environmental impact. In the study area due to environmental pollution by stone crushing units, 36 per cent of the workers are affected with disease like eye irritation, asthma, chest pain, TB etc. Among these disease eye irritation, asthma and skin allergy are vital among stone crushing workers. Nearly 50 per cent of the workers are not using proper protective devises. Out of this, 30 per cent of them are not using any devices to protect them from dust pollution.
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