Occupational Health and Safety Issues
In Pune, waste pickers are largely women, and to some extent, children. Their work of collecting recyclable waste like paper, plastic, leather, metal etc, helps in managing solid waste in the city. This in turn helps in keeping the environment clean, saves money from recycling various products and in conserving natural resources. However their occupation brings them into contact with a large variety of physical, chemical and biological hazards. Those who help keep our environment healthy are themselves the victim of a range of health
Hazardous nature of waste:
Waste can also contaminate the air, water and soil of the environment in which waste pickers live. These workers often live in slums (informal settlements) which are not serviced by local municipalities. They are, therefore, often doubly exposed to the environmental hazards of the waste listed above.
With the ever-growing population in the world, problems in housing and overcrowding are the obvious outcomes. With the increasing growth of population in Pune the number of slums are increasing - a complex development issues shared with many other cities.
Indirect environmental hazards:
In slums, issues like crime, human rights violations and accidents are widely prevalent. Furthermore, a major issue noted is the health status of slum dwellers. People live in poverty, without means to maintain a hygienic lifestyle, making them susceptible to a number of health problems ranging from infectious diseases, mental health issues, reproductive health problems, nutrition related problems and even chronic diseases. Crowded living conditions also make it easy for outbreaks of infectious diseases and the availability and accessibility of the health care system is largely disproportionate to the needs of the people.