Abstract: diseases of women bidi workers in India.

Abstract: These days occupational health hazards are the
emerging problems all over the world. Majority of the labor class are from the
unorganized/informal/small sectors which contributes the Indian economy to a
large extent. Among such informal/unorganized & lost sectors, bidi industry
is one of them which is traditionally a female dominated informal sector,
particularly in tobacco processing and bidi rolling processes. As such for millions
of women in today’s era, bidi manufacturing has become an emerging occupation
for these poor women’s in India. The bidi rolling is considered as a household
occupation which includes a large number of female workers on a daily-wage basis.
But these female workers are constantly exposed to several hazardous/killer chemicals/substances,
which have a potential to cause various severe occupational diseases to the
workers and their families as well. Until now, very little research has been done on
the occupational health, hazards and psychosocial problems of women bidi workers
in India. The current concept & review mainly focuses on serious issues/concerns
about the environment, working conditions, exposures, occupational health
problems & severe diseases of women bidi workers in India. One among these
is the tobacco dust which contains toxic nitrosamines which are
readily absorbed by the body tissues giving rise to cough, breathlessness,
ocular and dermatological health problems. The present research thesis aims to
identify the effects of occupational exposure of tobacco on the general health
of women laborers of Nalanda district, Bihar Sharif.         Introduction: The Bidi
and Cigar industry employs thousands of poor people; most of them work under
pitiful and hazardous conditions that are a threat to their health & life. These
workers spend hours & hours blending and rolling tobacco in unhygienic,
damp, dingy and overcrowded areas having very little facilities for drinking
water, toilet, washing or first aid. These bidi workers are exposed to unburnt tobacco dust through
cutaneous and pharyngeal route on day-to-day basis. Various studies/research have
been conducted on bidi workers in
order to understand the available working condition and expected health hazards
and to determine whether bidi
rollers are in a good condition or not. The
factory owners, dealers, retailers and all of them related to bidi & cigar
manufacturing take advantage of the poor workers, their lack of education and
unity, in order to perpetuate exploitation. The major cons of the Factories
Act, 1948 manufactures have given ways such as splitting organizations into
smaller units or distribution of work in private households, to ignore its
provisions. The government of India estimates that there are about 4.4 million
workers who are earning livelihood through this industry. Women’s
Occupational Health (WOH) should hold high priority on the international agenda
and represent a dynamic equilibrium state between the women workers and her
occupational environment. Here, occupational health not only deals with
work-related disorders or diseases, but it also includes several factors that
affect workers’ health (Pandve and Bhuyar, 2008). In todays’s era, the issue of
occupational hazards assessment at workplace is of great concern. However,
nearly or more than 90% of the workforce in India is working within the unorganized
sector (Gopalan, 1995; Sheila, 2006; Sharma, 2012) where the levels of
technology & facilities are low. One
of the largest segment of the labor force in the country are from the
unorganized sector including about 41.35 lakh in bidi industry. Thus, Bidi
manufacturing is one of the major & expanded informal sector activities in
India in which maximum numbers of poor & unprivileged home-based women
workers are engaged in bidi rolling activities. Therefore, there is a dire need
to improve both the living and working conditions of these poor workers as well
as to promote and provide decent employment and income opportunities to these
women bidi rollers. Material and
methods: This
research used a very descriptive designing. The sample for the study comprises
of female bidi workers/rollers. A total of 200 female bidi workers were
considered as the subject for this study, actively involved in the bidi rolling
process. Purposive random sampling technique was brought in concern for sample
selection. Only those female workers of the families, who were directly
involved in bidi work and were ready to answer the schedule, were involved for
the study. The subjects were divided into two groups – tobacco users & Non-tobacco
users. A standard questionnaire related to health issues, tobacco use and smoking
habit was prepared in order to observe the health effects on female workers. This
entire study aimed at retrieving insights about the occupational health
problems undergone by the female bidi workers on a daily basis at Nalanda
district. This study conducted research on 50 such families using a purposive
sampling method. The sole objective of the study was to gather status of the
working conditions & health hazards. Result: Since,
tobacco causes many human health risks both directly/indirectly. The present
study involved 200 female bidi workers as a sample. Among these: 100 were tobacco
users and the rest 100 were non-tobacco users respectively. For the study, the demographic
details and systemic features of these 200 women laborers were given in tables
1 and 2 respectively. Further, the results indicated that issues of headache, weakness,
sneezing, nausea, irritation & dryness of throat, and nail discoloration
were prominent & higher in non-tobacco users because they are much more
sensitive towards tobacco and its exposure than tobacco users.  

Table 1: Background of the
Respondents

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Information

Total number of
bidi workers

Tobacco users

Non tobacco
users

(a) Total number of respondents (Female Laborers)

                     200

           
100

           
100

Work
characteristics

(b) Socio-economic status

                                          Poor

(c) Working years

                                          5
to 40 years

 

                                          2
hour (minimum)

                                         
8-10 hour (maximum)

(e) Bidi rolled per day

                                         400
to 1200 per day

   

Table 2: Health Status of Women Laborers
of Bidi-Industry

 

                   
                    Symptoms

                                No. of
respondents

                        Users

        
And non users

     
1.

Headache

3

4

     
2.

Backache

7

2

     
3.

Skin irritation

7

7

    
4.

Eye irritation

12

15

    
5.

Vomiting / Nausea

1

3

    
6.

Difficulty in breathing

12

9

    
7.

Nose irritation

3

3

    
8.

Breathlessness

5

3

    
9.

Loss of appetite

10

8

   
10.

Weakness

4

6

  Discussion: Since,
bidi manufacturing is one of the second largest industry in India (Shimkhada
and Peabody, 2003) which imparts employment to mostly women and children belonging
to the poor socio-economic strata (Shimkhada and Peabody, 2003; Aghi 2003). Therefore,
considering the high content of nicotine and other harmful chemicals in bidi &
tobacco, these workers are at an extreme high risk of systemic illness (Malson et
al., 2001). Nicotine is one the major components of tobacco. Since, tobacco
has about 4000 active chemical compounds including nitrosamines, polycyclic
aromatic hydrocarbon elements and cadmium (Robert, 1988). According to Mittal
(Mittal et al., 2008) theory, ocular manifestations are also profound in
bidi rollers. The final result of this study correlates well with (Mittal et
al., 2008) theory. Also, eye irritation was found in almost 13.5% of female
bidi workers/rollers. It’s
already known that tobacco dust consists of several toxic substances including
– nitrosamines, which are readily absorbed by body tissues like skin, mucous
membrane of mouth & nose and respiratory epithelium (Chattopadhyay et al.,
2006). As a result of which, prevalence of cough with breathlessness,
difficulty in breathing, morning cough etc. was comparatively much higher in
tobacco usersConclusion: Our
conclusion is based on several health hazards where the subjects are aware of
the harmful effects of tobacco usage. There is an urgent need to enhance knowledge
about the side effects of smoking among the disadvantaged crowd of the
population. Results of the present research prove that:·       
Bidi tobacco is very
harmful for the workers who inhale tobacco during bidi rolling both actively or
passively. ·       
The bad health impact on
bidi workers is visible on all age groups workers. ·       
Continuous bidi rolling
process leads to nicotine absorption directly through skin (The CNN freedom project,
2012). Several
bidi workers welfare schemes are being implemented by the Govt. in the field of
health, recreation, education, housing & social security like:·       
Recently, the govt. has
sanctioned 4 new hospitals and 40 dispensaries in concern of the bidi workers. ·       
Govt. has also extended
Rashtriya Swasthaya Bima Yojna (RSBY) for bidi workers. (Ministry of Labor &
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