An Exploratory Analysis of Occupational Skin Disease Among Latino Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers in North Carolina

Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
  • Arcury, Thomas;
  • Quandt, Sara;
  • Mellen, Beverly G.


Occupational skin disease is highly prevalent among all agricultural workers. However, few data exist on risk factors for occupational skin disease among migrant and seasonal farmworkers. The goal of this analysis was to further document the prevalence of occupational skin disease among Latino farmworkers and delineate risk factors. This exploratory analysis used data collected in repeated survey interviews with Latino farmworkers in North Carolina in June and July (early season) and in August and September (late season), 1999. Respondents were largely male (95%) and from Mexico (95%), with about one-third each age 18-24, 25-34, and 35 and older. About half were in the U.S. on work contracts. Independent variables included the physical environment (crops worked), the social environment (having received pesticide safety training, having a work contract), and behavior and individual characteristics (re-wearing work clothes, showering after work, age). The dependent measures were reporting having had itching or burning skin or a skin rash in the two months prior to each interview; 24% of the respondents in the early season, and 37% in the late season reported skin disease signs and symptoms during the previous two months. Those reporting signs and symptoms in the early season were more likely to report them in late season. Significant independent risk factors for skin signs and symptoms in early season were re-wearing work clothes, showering after work, and being age 35 or older. In late season, those who had not received pesticide safety training had lower odds of reporting skin disease signs and symptoms, after adjusting for other potential risk factors. This exploratory study indicates that Latino migrant and seasonal farmworkers experience a high incidence of occupational skin disease. Further research is required with improved measurement of skin disease signs and symptoms, diagnosis of specific skin disease, and improved measurement of risk factors.

Full article can be found in: Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
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