Respiratory symptoms among municipal waste workers in the Gambia: Types of solid waste and working conditions

Buba Darboe, Meei Ying Kao, Duujian Tsai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


This study evaluated the prevalence of major respiratory symptoms (RS) among waste workers in Kanifing, a major metropolis in the Gambia, and assessed the relationship between work-related factors and the prevalence of specific RS. Here 116 waste workers were recruited to participate in the study, dividing the participants into three groups according to job function: refuse collectors, field supervisors, and drivers. A slightly modified version of the British Medical Research Council's questionnaire on RS was used to interview participants. Data were analyzed with the Statistical Package for Social Sciences software (version 18.0).The prevalence of RS in the three groups of waste workers was as follows: 22.2% of field supervisors reported persistent cough, as did 36.4% of drivers, and 83.8% of refuse collectors. Phlegm production was 44.4% among field supervisors, 81.8% among drivers, and 83.8% among refuse collectors. Among field supervisors, 11.1% reported having shortness of breath; the figure for drivers was 30.3%, and for refuse collectors, it was 40.5%. The prevalence of wheezing was 11.1% among field supervisors, 21.2% among drivers, and 27.0% among refuse collectors. Post hoc Scheffe analysis revealed a significant mean difference in the prevalence of persistent cough among refuse collectors compared with field supervisors and drivers (p < 0.05). Multiple regression analysis shows that factors such as exposure to dust, nonuse of respiratory protective devices, history of asthma, and contact with waste are all significant predictors of the prevalence of RS (p < 0.05). A majority of waste workers experienced RS. Prevalence was higher among refuse collectors compared with field supervisors and drivers. Specific work-related factors significantly affected RS in waste workers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-27
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Health Promotion and Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2 2015


  • exposure
  • respiratory symptoms
  • types of solid waste
  • waste workers
  • work-related factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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