National Center for Farmworker Health
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Respiratory Illness In Agricultural Workers

Author: Linaker, C.
Date Published: 2002

Research document discussing respiratory diseases recognized and associated with work in farming. The most common respiratory symptoms reported by farm workers (wheeze, dyspnoea and cough) are relatively non-specific and can be associated with several occupational respiratory disorders. This review describes the main occupational respiratory illnesses in farming and summarizes the current literature about epidemiology and prevention.The most common diseases include: 1. asthma and rhinitis which are not generally life threatening. 2. Some non-allergic conditions including Organic Dust Toxic Syndrome (ODTS) and Asthma-like syndrome appear to be common, but are not fully understood. 3. The most serious diseases include hypersensitivity pneumonitis and respiratory infections, but these are rare. These conditions are preventable by practical measures to reduce harmful exposure. For example: controlling harmful exposures to organic dust, toxic gases and chemicals on farms through improvements in animal rearing techniques, ventilation of animal accommodation, careful drying and storage of animal feed-stuffs, crops and other products, and use of personal protective equipment.

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Number of Pages: 9