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The Health Burden of Dust Pollution in the Textile Industry of Faisalabad, Pakistan

Muhammad Khan

No 119, Working papers from The South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics

Abstract: The study focuses on the high incidence of occupational health hazards faced by women and men working in the textile industry of Pakistan. One of the most relevant risk factors is exposure to airborne dust generated by fibers, which causes byssinosis and other respiratory impairments. Since these illnesses affect workers' health, productivity and quality of life very seriously, we estimate the disease burden and cost through a study of workers in the textile industry of Faisalabad, Pakistan. We collected the data from a randomly selected sample of 206 workers from 11 textile spinning factories in August 2013, using a two-week Health Diary and a survey questionnaire. The survey results show a significant number of workersto experience respiratory symptoms including byssinosis, chronic cough, phlegm, blood with phlegm, bronchitis, asthma and tuberculosis. The results from health diary show that roughly 9% of workers had to visit the doctor for treatment during those two weeks. The average monetary loss to the ill workers is PKR 4096 per month which accounts for 32 percent of their income. The regression results show that the probability of respiratory diseases is significantly higher for those who smoke cigarettes or work in sections that are dusty or high in temperature. The results of the health production function show that the number of work hours lost due to respiratory diseases is significantly higher for those who work in dustysections while it is significantly lower for those who wear a mask. The research highlights the importance of promoting a safety culture in textile mills through the provision of occupational safety and health training to workers and through the implementation of appropriate dust control standards in the industry.

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