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Occupational exposure to airborne pollen and associated health risks among gardeners: a perception-based survey

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Airborne pollen are considered a major trigger of respiratory diseases that causes morbidity and subsequently affects a person’s quality of life (QOL). Outdoor workers, such as gardeners, florists, etc., are at greater risk of allergies due to continuous exposure to the high concentration of allergens. The current study aims to assess the associated health risks among gardeners due to occupational exposure to airborne pollen. A semi-structured questionnaire-based survey was conducted among gardeners (496) in Chandigarh, covering their socio-demographic status, occupational and environmental history, and respiratory and other health-related problems. Out of 496 respondents from 26 gardens in the city, 72.58% fall under the category of plantsman (mali), followed by 15.72% of grass cutters and 3.02% of headmali/supervisor. The majority of gardeners were males (95.76%) and a maximum number of respondents were in the age group of 29–38 years (27.41%). Among all, 4.2%, 3.6%, and 3.2% of respondents perceived the problem of shortness of breath and breathing problems. At the same time, 3.2% of respondents perceived that their breathing is never wholly satisfactory and surprisingly, all of them are plantsman (mali). Moreover, 18.9% of the respondents covered their faces with a cloth and only 0.5% of the respondents wore both spectacles and covered their faces with a cloth. Out of all respondents, 6.5% reported irritation in the eyes without wearing any personal protective device. The results show that a large proportion of gardeners are illiterate and unaware of occupational hazards and pollen allergies in their workplaces. Moreover, the regulatory authorities conduct no formal health awareness and training/education sessions to minimize the exposure and associate risk. The findings of the study will aid in a better understanding of the working conditions and health status of occupational gardeners, as well as the development of appropriate methods to improve their working conditions.

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Akshi Goyal is thankful to the Department of Science and Technology (DST) for providing the financial assistance to carry out the Ph.D. research work under INSPIRE Fellowship scheme. The authors are also grateful to Municipal Corporation and Institutional Ethics Committee Panjab University (PUIEC), Chandigarh, for allowing to conduct this survey via letter no. 77/365-74 and vide letter no. EC-D-2102-24, respectively.

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Authors and Affiliations



Akshi Goyal: Conceptualization, Methodology, Data analysis and Visualization, Writing—review & editing, Data curation.

Khaiwal Ravindra: Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Visualization, Writing—review & editing and approving the final draft, Visualization.

Suman Mor: Conceptualization, Supervision, Formal analysis, Writing—review & editing, Visualization.

All authors contributed to the study’s conception and design. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Suman Mor.

Ethics declarations

Ethics approval

The permission to conduct this survey was issued by Municipal Corporation (MC), Chandigarh, vide letter no. 77/365–74 dated 12th March 2020; CE/MC/24 dated 05/01/2022 and Institutional Ethics Committee Panjab University (PUIEC), Chandigarh vide letter no. EC-D-2102–24.

Consent to participate

The respondents have signed a consent form to participate in the study and provided all information will be kept confidential.

Consent for publication

All authors agree to publish and administrative consent was taken from Municipal Corporation (MC), Chandigarh vide letter no. CE/MC/24 dated 05/01/2022.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

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Responsible Editor: Lotfi Aleya

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• This is the first survey to examine the occupational exposure to pollens and associated health risk in gardeners of North-India.

• 4.2%, 3.6%, and 3.2% of gardeners reported shortness of breath and breathing problems.

• Illiteracy and lack of awareness were major factors affecting the outcomes of the study.

• 100% of the gardeners were not aware of their occupational health risks.

• Awareness and training sessions are needed for gardeners to minimize the exposure and associated risks.

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Goyal, A., Ravindra, K. & Mor, S. Occupational exposure to airborne pollen and associated health risks among gardeners: a perception-based survey. Environ Sci Pollut Res 29, 70084–70098 (2022).

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