Aim of the study Determination of the occupational exposure influence on asthma and COPD development among crop and dairy farmers, and evaluation of exposure characteristics by job exposure matrices.
Methods A cross-sectional study was performed, including 87 crop farmers and 83 dairy farmers, exposed to respiratory hazards, compared to a control group of 80 office workers. Standard questionnaire on chronic respiratory symptoms and spirometry testing were applied, while farmers were also assessed by job exposure matrices.
Results and discussion Asthma was registered in 8% of crop and 7.2% of dairy farmers, and was significantly associated with atopy, and positive family history of asthma and COPD, while association with smoking habit and duration of exposure was non-significant. The prevalence of allergic was significantly higher compared to non-allergic asthma in exposed and unexposed workers. Occupational allergic asthma was registered in 2.3% of crop and 1.2% of dairy farmers, while the frequency of work-aggravated asthma was 5.7% and 6.1% respectively. COPD prevalence was non-significantly higher in exposed (6.9% in crop and 8.4% in dairy farmers) compared to office controls (3.8%). COPD was significantly associated with age over 40 years, smoking habit, and duration of exposure in exposed subjects. According to data obtained by job exposure matrices, asthma and COPD in crop farmers were significantly related to high intensity of exposure to dust, gases, fumes and vapours on a regular basis, while among dairy farmers they were significantly related to high intensity of dust exposure on a regular basis, as well as high intensity of exposure to gases, fumes and vapours both on sporadic and regular basis.
Conclusion The study results confirm the impact of occupational exposure to respiratory hazards on respiratory health impairment among farmers, including asthma and COPD, being closely related to its duration, characteristics, and intensity.
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