|▲ provided by the Gwangju Workers' Health Center|
Two lung cancer street cleaners in Suncheon City, South Jeolla Province who have been working over 20 years in a working condition exposed to diesel exhaust fumes, silicate glass and asbestos were recognized as the victims of a work-related disease.
Diesel exhaust fumes are classified as one of Group 1 cancer-causing agents or carcinogens listed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer(IARC) in 2012. Silicate glasses and asbestos contained in used coal briquettes and slates are known to be lung cancer causing substances. A street cleaner in Suncheon City who retired last year died of lung cancer.
It is pointed out that preventive measures are urgently needed to address work-related cancers for outdoor workers including street cleaners who work most of their time on the streets.
The Suncheon Branch Office of the Korea Workers' Compensation and Welfare Service(KCOMWEL) on November 12 approved the application for medical care benefits which has been lodged by two retired street cleaners surnamed Seo(61 years old) and Hwang(62 years old) employed by the Suncheon Municipal Government.
Seo and Hwang made an application for medical care benefits in January this year with the KCOMWEL Suncheon Branch Office, claiming that they were diagnosed with lung cancer having been exposed to diesel exhaust fumes during their duties as street cleaners over 20 years. The KCOMWEL's Occupational Lung Disease Research Institute conducted an epidemiologic investigation. The Seoul Work-related Disease Adjudication Committee on November 7 recognized the application for medical care benefits, confirming the facts that the applicants had long been exposed to diesel exhaust fumes classified as a lung-cancer-causing substance during their duties as street cleaners over 20 years and also had been sparsely exposed to silicate glasses and asbestos.
Seo worked over 27 years as a street cleaner, collecting household wastes and cleaning streets and alleys before his retirement in December last year. Hwang worked over 21 years until his retirement in December 2016, doing the same duties as Seo did. Both of them were diagnosed with lung cancer. They worked 8 hours a day for 6 days a week(morning duties on Saturdays after 2014) with constant exposure to diesel exhaust fumes and often collected used slates and coal briquettes before the introduction of a new waste management system called jongnyangje.
reported by Bae Hye-jung
translated by Kim Sung-jin
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