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Association of allergic rhinitis with pesticide use among grape farmers in Crete, Greece
  1. Leda Chatzi1,
  2. Athanasios Alegakis2,
  3. Nikolaos Tzanakis3,
  4. Nikolaos Siafakas3,
  5. Manolis Kogevinas1,4,
  6. Christos Lionis1
  1. 1Department of Social Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece
  2. 2Biostatistics Laboratory, Faculty of Medicine, University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece
  3. 3Department of Thoracic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece
  4. 4Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology, IMIM, Barcelona, Spain
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr L Chatzi
 Department of Social Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Crete, PO Box 2208, Heraklion 71003, Crete, Greece; lchatzi{at}


Objective: To explore the association of allergic rhinitis with the use of pesticides among grape farmers in Crete.

Methods: A cross-sectional study of 120 grape farmers and 100 controls at the Malevisi region in Northern Crete was conducted. The protocol consisted of a questionnaire, skin prick tests for 16 common allergens, measurement of specific IgE antibodies against 8 allergens, and spirometry before and after bronchodilatation.

Results: Grape farmers who used pesticides had higher prevalence rates of allergic rhinitis symptoms (OR, 3.0; 95% CI, 1.4 to 6.2) compared with grape farmers who reported no current use of pesticides, and control subjects. Logistic regression models controlling for age, sex and smoking status showed that 6 of the 12 predefined groups of major pesticides were significantly related to allergic rhinitis symptoms. The highest risks were observed for paraquat and other bipyridyl herbicides (OR, 2.2; 95% CI, 1.0 to 4.8), dithiocarbamate fungicides (OR, 2.5; 95% CI, 1.1 to 5.3) and carbamate insecticides (OR, 3.0; 95% CI, 1.4 to 6.5). A factor analysis of pesticides used identified 3 distinct factors. The most common factor was that of multiple pesticide use that included 9 pesticides and was significantly associated with allergic rhinitis (OR, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.0 to 2.3). ORs were higher when allergic rhinitis was defined using both questionnaire data on symptoms and atopy.

Conclusions: Occupational exposure to multiple agricultural chemicals could be related to allergic rhinitis in grape farmers.

  • AR, allergic rhinitis
  • SPT, skin prick test

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  • Published Online First 19 December 2006

  • Competing interests: None declared.