Symptoms of Respiratory Disease Among Ohio Farm Operators

  • Bean, Thomas;
  • Crawford, John M.;
  • Mitchell, Gladys Lynn;
  • Wilkins III, J.R.;
  • Rublaitus, Stephen;
  • Jones, Lawrence A.

In collaboration with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), The Ohio State University (OSU) is conducting a multiple-phase, population-based health and hazard study of Ohio cash-grain farmers and their families. A self-administered questionnaire was sent to a sample of 4,860 cash-grain farmers. This sample was drawn from a state directory maintained by the Ohio Agricultural Statistics Service. The mailing was followed by a telephone survey of non-respondents in order to complete Phase 1 of the Ohio Farm Family Health Study.

Among the health issues examined, the questionnaire solicited information about symptoms of respiratory disease. Self-reported symptoms characteristic of respiratory disease on the Phase-1 questionnaire indicate that 16.5% of the operators from our sample experienced flu-like symptoms in connection with dusty work during the twelve months preceding completion of the questionnaire. Of the operators who experienced respiratory symptoms, 63.6% attributed the symptoms to their work environment. Also, 10.5% of the respondents reported past experience with chest tightness in connection with work.

Additional data analyses will give consideration to the characteristics of the farm operation, including its principal products and the size of the operation in terms of sales value of the products and acreage of land included in the production. Also considered will be possible associations of respiratory disease symptoms with preventive measures such as training in the prevention of occupational illness and injuries and the use of breathing protection for dusty work. Exposures such as the operator's job history of specific farm tasks and self-reported habits including smoking will be addressed as exposures that may account for the respiratory conditions reported.

This research abstract was extracted from a portion of the proceedings of "Agricultural Safety and Health: Detection, Prevention and Intervention," a conference presented by the Ohio State University and the Ohio Department of Health, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The authors noted above are from: All at The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.

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