Air Pollution: Bridge & Tunnel Workers #1

Raw footage from Air Pollution, a video by Peoples Video Theater / Survival Arts Media, that explores the effects of smog and other pollution on the health of people and the local wildlife. In this tape, scientists administer pulmonary tests to bridge and tunnel workers as part of a longterm study to determine the effects of air pollution on their health.

00:07Copy video clip URL The camera moves around the inside of a “mobile ecology unit.” A man in glasses explains the idea behind the van, sponsored by St. Vincent’s Hospital, is to offer pulmonary function tests in order to determine how their lungs are functioning. They will conduct these tests for three years to determine if there are any changes for bridge and tunnel workers in that time. 

01:40Copy video clip URL A scientist explains that the impetus for the tests came from the union, which was concerned that their employees were being harmed by the large number of pollutants they were exposed to in the bridges and tunnels. 

03:08Copy video clip URL A scientist administers a questionnaire to a worker, asking him about coughing, shortness of breath, and other lung/chest problems. He then measures his blood pressure, explaining for the camera what he is doing and why blood pressure might be significant for their study. 

10:15Copy video clip URL The scientist conducts a test to measure the amount of carbon monoxide in the worker’s blood system. He explains that they’ve found the levels of carbon monoxide in the workers is higher than in the normal population. A scientist cuts a little hair from the worker’s head, which they explain is to measure lead.

15:00Copy video clip URL The scientists administer a test in which the worker blows into a tube. They ask the worker if he’d noticed a difference since he’d started taking a medication and then explains the results and discusses future treatments and tests. 

17:43Copy video clip URL The scientists discuss the significance of the previous test’s results.

20:04Copy video clip URL The scientists administer a questionnaire to Donald, another worker. 

21:10Copy video clip URL The videomaker interrupts to ask why the questions about phlegm are important. The scientist explains that phlegm can indicate chronic bronchitis. The questionnaire continues. The worker has had a number of lung and chest problems. 

24:07Copy video clip URL Tony, the union leader, interrupts to explain that most of the workers would not have gone to the doctor to test for emphysema, and that most people had never heard of it before reading about it in the questionnaire. 

26:04Copy video clip URL Tony asks why it is that the van has been more successful than the testing at the medical center, with nearly 100% of the workers coming to the van. The worker being tested thinks it’s because of the time it would take to get to the center. A scientist says he’d heard that a fear of needles was a factor. The scientists explain that the higher turnout means that the data will be much more valid and useful.

29:20Copy video clip URL Donald explains that the less clinical atmosphere is much more welcoming. He says that the workers have grown increasingly concerned about their health, as there have been several heart attacks on the job. 

31:40Copy video clip URL Tony explains that the health tests were prompted by ten years of frustration and, eventually, a strike. The answers and explanations given by their employers were unreliable. 

 

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