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Agricultural Lung Diseases

Steven R. Kirkhorn and Vincent F. Garry
Environmental Health Perspectives
Vol. 108, Supplement 4: Occupational and Environmental Lung Diseases (Aug., 2000), pp. 705-712
DOI: 10.2307/3454407
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3454407
Page Count: 8
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Agricultural Lung Diseases
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Abstract

Agriculture is considered one of the most hazardous occupations. Organic dusts and toxic gases constitute some of the most common and potentially disabling occupational and environmental hazards. The changing patterns of agriculture have paradoxically contributed to both improved working conditions and increased exposure to respiratory hazards. Animal confinement operations with increasing animal density, particularly swine confinement, have contributed significantly to increased intensity and duration of exposure to indoor air toxins. Ongoing research has implicated bacterial endotoxins, fungal spores, and the inherent toxicity of grain dusts as causes of upper and lower airway inflammation and as immunologic agents in both grain and animal production. Animal confinement gases, particularly ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, have been implicated as additional sources of respiratory irritants. It has become evident that a significant percentage of agricultural workers have clinical symptoms associated with long-term exposure to organic dusts and animal confinement gases. Respiratory diseases and syndromes, including hypersensitivity pneumonitis, organic dust toxic syndrome, chronic bronchitis, mucous membrane inflammation syndrome, and asthmalike syndrome, result from ongoing acute and chronic exposures. In this review we focus upon the emerging respiratory health issues in a changing agricultural economic and technologic environment. Environmental and occupational hazards and exposures will be emphasized rather than clinical diagnosis and treatment. Methods of prevention, from both engineering controls and personal respiratory perspectives, are also addressed.

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