India: Workers Face Health Risks in the World’s ‘Most Polluted’ City

Bhiwadi in Rajasthan state is named the world’s worst city for air pollution but many workers are unaware of the risks and shun masks.

Indian traffic policeman Surendar Singh waves away clouds of dust and smoke as he unbuttons his shirt to show a small box bulging out of his chest. “It literally keeps me alive,” said Singh, 48, showing the implanted cardiac defibrillator device that detects when his heart rhythm goes dangerously awry and delivers a shock to restore it to normal.

Bhiwadi – an industrial hub – had the worst air quality of 6,475 cities surveyed for a report published by Swiss air quality technology company IQAir last month.

The city’s air carries more than 20 times the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended maximum level of tiny airborne particles known as PM 2.5, which can penetrate deep into the lungs and cardiovascular system.

Dozens of outdoor workers – from sweepers, street vendors, and construction laborers to security guards and tuk-tuk drivers – said they knew nothing of the poor-quality air they were breathing and questioned its impacts on health.

Air pollution costs Indian businesses about $95bn – or about 3 percent of India’s total gross domestic product every year, calculated a report last year commissioned by the nonprofit Clean Air Fund.

Source: Al Jazeera

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