Sugar cane workers

Sugar cane workers

This sugar cane worker is in danger from two environmental diseases. What are they?

This picture is taken in the sugar cane fields of Nicaragua in 2005 by Tord Kjellstrom of ANU. For many years it has been recognised that these workers suffer from  Bagassosis. This is a respiratory caused by the inhalation of dust from waste sugar cane fibre.

However Tord Kjellstrom points out that the sugar cane cutters have to work in extreme temperatures for hours on end.  Their job will get even harder with climate change.  Heat stroke has been quite common and reduced during recent years mainly by the company providing ample supply of drinking water in trucks driven into the fields during harvest. This situation epitomises one of the main health hazards of global warming—heat stroke. A record heat wave scorched Europe in August 2003, claiming an estimated 35,000 lives. In France alone, 15,000 people died from the searing temperatures. Many of the deaths were in old or debilitated people. Heat waves of this severity are expected to become much more frequent as global warming progresses.and the these extreme events plus the overall rise in temperature will stress workers like those in Nicaragua who have to labour in the fields.