Air and noise pollution pose grave threat to traffic cops’ health

Traffic police workers have to be on duty across all seasons, and it exposes them to serious hazards. Are they aware of the dangers that the constant exposure to pollution subjects them to? Let’s find out…

Last Updated on September 20, 2022 by Shabnam Sengupta

Whenever we face inconvenience on roads, or traffic congestion, it is the on-duty traffic police officers whom we approach for help. These men and women in uniform are always alert while carrying out their responsibilities whether it is scorching heat, bone-rattling cold or heavy rains.

When Covid-19 pandemic was at its peak, they worked round the clock to ensure safe passages to ambulances while handling traffic. But do they take equal care for their own well-being?

Increase in population is a challenge

The fast-growing population is responsible for increasing number of vehicles on the roads. This has not only added to people’s inconvenience but is also putting pressure on the resources. Managing crowds on the roads is not an easy task and no amount of appreciation for the traffic policemen is enough for taking up this immense challenge daily.

Lack of awareness about good health

According to a research, most traffic policemen suffer from burning of eyes, headache, lack of sleep and infections. The study included people up to the age of 45 who mostly work as traffic policemen. It has been found that they have little knowledge about their own health and safety.

Avinash Kumar, a traffic policeman in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, said, “I always feel choked with phlegm and have a burning feeling in my chest as I do my duty amid petrol and diesel emission from vehicles moving around me. But apart from getting daily allowance, we do not get any benefit related to our health.”

Neeraj Kumar, who also works in traffic police, Bihar, said, “I am not aware of any health insurance but if we fall sick, we get treatment benefits at the hospital.”

Dr Saket Sharma, MD, DM-senior consultant, pulmonary medicine, at Jay Prabha Medanta Super Specialty Hospital in Patna, Bihar, said, “Air pollution poses a number of threats to health. Emissions from vehicles contain various hazardous chemicals. Particles of hazardous carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide gas in the air can cause serious lung diseases such as Silicosis, Emphysema, and others.”

According to one research, dangers of pneumoconiosis, which is generally called ‘dusty lung’, are heightened by constant exposure to dust and smoke. It is not that every particle that we inhale threatens our health as white blood cells like macrophages help enhance the body’s resistance power by removing/killing microscopic organisms and dead cells. But there is also the danger of certain particles entering the red blood cells and spreading throughout the body, endangering key organs such as kidneys, brain and others.

Worrying statistics

Professor Dr. G C Khilnani, Chairman, PSRI Institute of Pulmonary, Critical care & Sleep Medicine and Member, technical advisory group of WHO Global Air Pollution and Health, said in an interview that danger of asthma lurks due to constant breathing in polluted air. We lost around 2,50,000 lives just because of polluted air. People, whose health is adversely affected by air pollution, suffer from breathing problems, cough and chest congestions. For them, the use of an inhaler or nebulisation can be a good way to get relief.

According to the Bureau of Police Research and Development, the year 2020 saw more than 3.66 lakh accidents due to traffic violations in which 1.31 lakh people died. At the same time, 29 per cent posts in traffic police across India are lying vacant while in Bihar, it is 41.8 per cent, the highest.

These figures clearly suggest the significance of traffic policemen to reduce road accidents. In this situation, it becomes all the more important to take steps regarding their health so that the personnel can do their work with greater alacrity.

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