In Lao PDR, the grilled food sector is a growing part of the informal food economy; staff have limited access to workplace or social protections, including national health insurance and paid sick leave. Female workers are particularly disadvantaged.

The Faculty of Public Health at the University of Health Sciences, Lao PDR, in
cooperation with SEI, conducted a research project, “Air pollution among grill
workers in Lao PDR: Issues of inequalities and gender”. The team analysed
the exposure of grill workers to PM2.5 and proposed risk reduction measures.

Emissions from grills from street vendors contribute very little to overall air pollution in Vientiane; however, localized exposure for individual workers is high, which can result in significant health impacts. More women than men work in the grilled food sector, and female grill workers are more likely to report respiratory symptoms than their male counterparts. Gender expectations affect who does what jobs and how much individuals are paid.

To minimize localized air pollution and the health problems from exposure to grill smoke, the health, environment, social and business sectors should collaborate to raise awareness, reduce emissions, support workers’ health, and support a sustainable clean air monitoring system.