MMDA and UP-National Institute of Health to study problems associated with exposure to traffic

Traffic enforcers, particularly, those from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) spend long hours on major thoroughfares under the intense heat of the sun (or rain) to make sure that vehicular traffic will flow smoothly.

Because of this, these same traffic enforcers are exposed to air pollution and excessive noise from vehicular traffic. These pose a serious health risk to the traffic enforcers.

Just recently, the MMDA announced that it is supporting the University of the Philippines – National Institute of Health (UP-NIH) initiative to conduct a study intended to determine the association of chronic traffic exposure to hearing loss wherein select agency field personnel will be the target participants.

MMDA Officer-in-Charge Director Baltazar Melgar said that traffic enforcers work under punishing weather conditions, stressing that they are also exposed to health hazards such as traffic noise exposure and air pollution.

“It must be noted that MMDA traffic enforcers, classified as civilian uniformed personnel, are exposed to health hazards while performing their duties,” said Melgar.

According to Melgar, the study will be led by Dr. Kim Ong of the UP-NIH and will be assisted by the MMDA Medical Clinic headed by Dr. Annabelle Ombina.

Select field personnel assigned at EDSA will undergo the screening process such as hearing tests and in-depth interviews.

“The screening process is expected to be done in the second week of August. Based on the criteria set by the UP-NIH, traffic enforcers must have a five-year field exposure experience, regardless of their employment status,” added Melgar.

Meanwhile, a recent study conducted by scientist Emmanuel Baja revealed that exposure to black carbon and heavy metals while on duty along the major thoroughfares of Metro Manila like EDSA, where hundreds of thousands of vehicles traverse daily, affects traffic enforcers’ blood pressure and lung function.

The study likewise showed that the lead found in enforcers’ blood could imply systemic inflammation and may also be linked to heart damage. At present, there are almost 600 traffic enforcers assigned to man traffic along EDSA.

Could this also mean that our fellow riders, like those riding for Lalamove or Angkas, who spend long hours on the road are also at risk of hearing loss and other health ailments?