On a warm Kansas spring day Trent Hill uncapped his concrete silo and began feeding the silage to his cattle. Removing the silage created large clouds of dusts. About eight hours later the farmer experienced flu-like symptoms -- coughing, fever, chills, muscle pain and general discomfort. On the same day a nearby neighbor broke open about two dozen bales of dusty hay inside his dairy barn. About six hours later he experienced severe flu-like symptoms.
Even though these two farmers both breathed in moldy dusts and had flu-like symptoms, they did not have the same illness. Hill had a toxic reaction known as Organic Dust Toxic Syndrome. The symptoms completely disappeared in a few days and there were no lasting effects. His neighbor, because he had become sensitized to molds, had Farmers Lung. Unless he avoids moldy dusts, particularly those from moldy hay, he risks developing permanent lung damage.
Other potential sources of dust particles include, grain handling, feed handling and processing and livestock confinement units. According to Al Heber, an agricultural engineer who specializes in air quality control, the effects of dust on worker health are dependent upon the number, size and composition of dust particles.
During a study conducted for the National Pork Producers Council Heber found swine dusts caused delayed fever, chills and muscle aches and pains in people exposed to excessive amounts of organic dusts. "One out of 10 agriculture workers experience these symptoms, but most of them treat it as the flu," Heber said.
Heber recommends the following to help air quality . . . especially for swine producers.
Publication #: MF-1085
This document is extracted from 'Health Concerns in Agriculture': A tabloid published by Extension Agricultural Engineering, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas. Publication date: October 1993.
Prepared by Jill Shelley and Michael Dennis, Educational Materials Specialist, Cooperative Extension, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas.
Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More