Department of Public Health Sciences
May, J.J. and M.B. Schenker
IN: Occupational and environmental respiratory disease. Harber P, Schenker MB, Balmes JR ED. 617-636. Mosby. St. Louis. 1995.
Those who work in agriculture are at risk for a variety of other health problems. Farmers and farmworkers have particular problems with dermatologic diseases, including cancers, which are often related to ultraviolet light exposure, zoonosis, and contact dermatitis. These individuals also experience higher rates of osteoarthritis than non-farmers. Finally, these individuals, particularly farm owners and operators, have substantially increased rates of suicide when compared with non-farm populations. Despite this litany of significant occupational health problems, respiratory disease remains one of the most common and important issues for those working in the agricultural field. The remainder of this chapter will review characteristics of this work environment that represent particular hazards and their impact on the respiratory health of the agricultural worker. It will become apparent to the reader that much remains to be learned about respiratory disease. This is particularly true in the case of farmworker populations where few studies of respiratory disease have been reported. The majority of the existing data is derived from clinic-based or convenience samples of farmworkers.
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