Original Research

Grill workers and air pollution health effects from charcoal combustion in Vientiane capital


Introduction: Grilled street foods are popular in urban communities in Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR). Charcoal is the main fuel used for, posing a risk of elevated exposure to toxic pollutants. This study explored levels of cooking-related pollutants from grilled food business and workers’ health effects.
Materials and methods: A quantitative approach using multiple techniques was conducted during March and April 2022 in Vientiane Capital, Lao PDR. Methods included pollutant emission estimation from charcoal-combusting grill shops/street-carts and Particulate Matter (PM2.5) measurement, and examined the exposure and health effects among grill workers. Multiple sampling techniques were applied to identify study samples. Respiratory symptoms were the health effect of interest among grill workers.
Results: Estimated emission of pollutants was over 75 tons/year from grill shops. Average PM2.5 level was 84.8 μg/m(21.6 - 254.8 μg/m3); which is above standard limits. A very high level of PM2.5 was found in grill markets. Most grill workers were female, worked 6-7 days/week, at least 8 h/day. Factors contributing to the presence of respiratory symptoms among grill
workers were female gender, low income, indoor grilling, more years of grill-work, experience of intense smoke-cough, self-reliance on health and cigarette smoking.
Conclusion: Grilling contributes to ambient air pollution, posing potential adverse environmental and public health impacts. Grill workers are likely to be exposed to high levels of all forms of air pollutants from street food grilling. Effective strategies are required to better protect grill workers from the effect of exposure to these harmful toxins and minimize the negative impacts on their health.

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IssueVol 8 No 2 (2023): Spring 2023 QRcode
SectionOriginal Research
DOI https://doi.org/10.18502/japh.v8i2.12916
Grill worker; Air pollution; Charcoal; Particulate matter (PM); Respiratory symptom

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How to Cite
Sychareun V, Vongxay V, Chaleunvong K, Thongmixay S, Soulideth B, Archer D, O’Neill C, Durham J. Grill workers and air pollution health effects from charcoal combustion in Vientiane capital. JAPH. 2023;8(2):165-182.