EDSA traffic enforcers' health up for retest as study showed pollutants' ill effects


Posted at Jun 12 2019 11:27 AM | Updated as of Jun 12 2019 11:52 AM

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MANILA - A scientist who led a study that showed the ill effects of exposure to pollutants on the health of traffic enforcers on Metro Manila's major thoroughfare EDSA is hoping to do a recheck this year.

Emmanuel Baja of the University of the Philippines' National Institutes of Health told ANC's Headstart Wednesday that 158 Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) traffic enforcers whose health status was studied would undergo another round of check later in the year.

"We plan this year to reassess the traffic enforcers. Hopefully they are still working in MMDA. We do a repeated measure, we reassess their health," said Baja.

"Hopefully, with funding from the Department of Science and Technology, we wanted to reassess sort of where they are now, their health assessment, then we can assess what happened to them," he said.

The study of Baja's group had showed that traffic enforcers on EDSA, among the metro's busiest thoroughfares, were vulnerable to high blood pressure, edema and respiratory problems due to exposure to black carbon and heavy metals.

The findings also showed different effects for men and women, and for smokers and non-smokers.

"We also find effects that if you're ever a smoker, you have a different effect on exposure to black carbon than a non-smoker. Based on the study, mas susceptible minsan ang non-smoker traffic enforcers (traffic enforcers who do not smoke are more susceptible) to increased blood pressure, inflammation and lower lung function," explained Baja.
Baja's study was conducted for a year on traffic enforcers on the morning shift or those working from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on EDSA end to end from Pasay City to Caloocan City.

"Why traffic enforcers? The traffic enforcers are good surrogates of the commuting public. So whatever exposure the traffic enforcers have is also mimicked by the same commuters. But for the traffic enforcers, they are in the streets for 8 hours or sometimes 10 hours," he said.

MMDA chief Danilo Lim welcomed Baja's suggestion to compensate traffic aides for occupational hazards. Lim also said they have been providing medicine and insurance to support enforcers.

Some traffic enforcers, however, are classified as "casual" and job order employees who are not entitled to benefits.

Baja also suggested that a rotational scheme would also be a good way to lessen traffic enforcers' exposure to pollutants.

"The rotation would be nice. If you're working along EDSA, it would be nice if you be placed [on a] road that's not well congested," he said.

The MMDA should also provide N95 masks to its enforcers, he said.

Baja also hopes that buses running on diesel on EDSA would soon be eliminated.

"Diesel engines are the worst (polluters)," he said.