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Occup Environ Med 64:334-341 doi:10.1136/oem.2006.028480
  • Original article

Pesticides and other agricultural factors associated with self-reported farmer’s lung among farm residents in the Agricultural Health Study

  1. Jane A Hoppin1,
  2. David M Umbach2,
  3. Greg J Kullman3,
  4. Paul K Henneberger3,
  5. Stephanie J London1,
  6. Michael C R Alavanja4,
  7. Dale P Sandler1
  1. 1Epidemiology Branch, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA
  2. 2Biostatistics Branch, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA
  3. 3Division of Respiratory Disease Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Sciences, Morgantown, West Virginia, USA
  4. 4Occupational Epidemiology Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Sciences, Rockville, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr J A Hoppin
 NIEHS, Epidemiology Branch, MD A3-05, PO Box 12233, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-2233, USA; hoppin1{at}niehs.nih.gov
  • Published Online First 20 December 2006

Abstract

Background: Farmer’s lung, or hypersensitivity pneumonitis, is an important contributor to respiratory morbidity among farmers.

Methods: Using the 1993–7 enrolment data from the Agricultural Health Study, we conducted a cross-sectional study of occupational risk factors for farmer’s lung among ∼50 000 farmers and farm spouses in Iowa and North Carolina using hierarchical logistic regression controlling for age, state, and smoking status. Participants provided information on agricultural exposures, demographic characteristics, and medical history via self-administered questionnaires. Approximately 2% of farmers (n = 481) and 0.2% of spouses (n = 51) reported doctor-diagnosed farmer’s lung during their lifetime. We assessed farmers and spouses separately due to different information on occupational exposure history. Only pesticide exposures represented lifetime exposure history, all other farm exposures represented current activities at enrolment.

Results: Among farmers, handling silage (OR = 1.41, 95% CI 1.10 to 1.82), high pesticide exposure events (OR = 1.75, 95% CI 1.39 to 2.21), and ever use of organochlorine (OR = 1.34, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.74) and carbamate pesticides (OR = 1.32, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.68) were associated with farmer’s lung in mutually-adjusted models. The insecticides DDT, lindane, and aldicarb were positively associated with farmer’s lung among farmers. Current animal exposures, while not statistically significant, were positively associated with farmer’s lung, particularly for poultry houses (OR = 1.55, 95% CI 0.93 to 2.58) and dairy cattle (OR = 1.28, 95% CI 0.86 to 1.89). The occupational data were more limited for spouses; however, we saw similar associations for dairy cattle (OR = 1.50, 95% CI 0.72 to 3.14) and organochlorine pesticides (OR = 1.29, 95% CI 0.64 to 2.59).

Conclusion: While historic farm exposures may contribute to the observed associations with pesticides, these results suggest that organochlorine and carbamate pesticides should be further evaluated as potential risk factors for farmer’s lung.

Footnotes

  • Published Online First 19 December 2006

  • Competing interest: None.

  • Disclaimers: The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Mention of any company or product does not constitute endorsement by NIOSH.