Author(s): K. Wilson, T. Kootbodien, F. Made, S. Mdleleni, N. Tlotleng, V. Ntlebi, N. Naicker

Source: International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health


Objective: To investigate gender differences in health in informal waste pickers affected by poverty and multiple environmental and work hazards.

Methods: A cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted at two major landfill sites in a large city. Information on health, work hazards and health care access as well as blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol and BMI were measured.

Results: A total of 361 waste pickers participated in the survey. The women interviewed earned on average 22% less per month than the men waste pickers. The women presented with worse chronic health outcomes (OR 2.69 95% CI 1.51–4.78) and signs of chronic disease (OR 1.73 95% CI 1.02–2.96) compared to men despite showing greater health-seeking behaviours.

Conclusion: Women waste pickers suffer worse health outcomes, such as lifestyle diseases and HIV. Further research is needed to identify the factors involved. Responsive programs supporting health care, improved working conditions and income for waste pickers may also improve their health.

Keywords Women: · Waste picker · Health · Landfill · Chronic disease · Informal