Air pollution puts health of more than 1.6 billion workers globally at risk

April 22, 2024  19:41

The health of more than 1.6 billion workers around the world is at risk from air pollution, and the same number of people face the negative effects of ultraviolet radiation in the workplace. Such data are given in the report of the International Labour Organization (ILO), which is a specialized agency of the UN.

ILO experts estimate that "climate change is creating a cocktail of serious health risks" for more than 70 per cent of the world's working people. These include diseases such as cancer cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, kidney dysfunction and mental disorders. Specifically, "1.6 billion people are exposed to ultraviolet radiation, with more than 18,960 occupational deaths each year from non-melanoma skin cancer." An estimated 1.6 billion people are also exposed to the health risks associated with exposure to polluted air, resulting in 860,000 deaths. More than 870 million agricultural workers face health effects from pesticides. Globally, 300,000 people die each year from pesticide poisoning. Occupational exposure to parasitic and transmissible diseases claims 15,000 lives annually.

According to "the most recent data available (2020)," the report notes, more than 2.4 billion workers worldwide out of a total of 3.4 billion suffer from excessive heat "at some point in their work". Since 2000, "this proportion has increased from 65.5% to 70.9%" of the workforce. Globally, there are 22.87 million "occupational injuries caused by excessive heat" each year, resulting in nearly 19,000 deaths and a cumulative loss of more than 2 million years of life due to disability. In 2020, there were 26.2 million people living with "chronic kidney disease associated with heat stress in the workplace".

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