A study by the National Institute of Research in Tribal Health (NIRTH), a body of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), says that mining in Tamnar block in Chhattisgarh's Raigarh district has put the tribals in an increased risk of acute respiratory infection (ARI).
The mining can also lead to tuberculosis and road traffic accidents. Besides, environmental health hazards and undernutrition increases the risk further for various diseases, the report said.
ARI (20.9 percent) was much higher than a National Health and Family Survey (NFHS) Chhattisgarh report where it was only 2.2 percent in the two weeks before the survey. The reason could be due to environment pollution or poor air quality index, the study said.
However, in-depth studies need to be done to rule out possible other causes of infections as any infection of the lung in early childhood may cause the development of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and bronchiectasis in later years, it added.
A total of 1,713 individuals of different ages from 984 households in 33 villages were surveyed to find out the morbidity, mortality and nutritional status of the population.
During the survey, the proportion of pre-school children with underweight was about 42.7 percent while about 8.8 percent males and 6.6 percent females had grade III chronic energy deficiency.
Overall, ARI constituted the most common morbidity followed by fever (6.2 percent) and scabies (1.6) among preschool children. Hypertension was 21.8 percent, followed by anaemia (16.1) and fungal infection (4) among the adult population, the study said.
The Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate Change undertook the study following directives of the National ST Commission on Health Assessment.
It is the first such study done in this area to help the local government in planning specific health programmes and to help in formulating disease-specific in-depth study later on.