Background Farms represent complex environments for respiratory exposures including hays, grains and pesticides. Little is known about the impact of these exposures on women’s respiratory health. We evaluated the association of farm exposures with allergic and non-allergic wheeze among women in the Agricultural Health Study, a study of farmers and their spouses based in Iowa and North Carolina.
Methods We used self-reported data (2005–2010) on current use (≤12 months) of 15 pesticides (selected based on frequency of use) and occupational farm activities from 20 164 women. We defined allergic wheeze as reporting wheeze and doctor-diagnosed hay fever (7%) and non-allergic wheeze as wheeze but not hay fever (8%) in the past 12 months. Using polytomous logistic regression, we evaluated associations of wheeze subtypes with pesticides and other farm exposures (eg, raising farm animals) using no wheeze/hay fever as the referent, adjusting for age, body mass index, state, current asthma, glyphosate use and smoking.
Results Current use of any pesticide, reported by 7% of women, was associated with both allergic (OR: 1.36, 95% CI: 1.10 to 1.67) and non-allergic (OR: 1.25, 95% CI: 1.04 to 1.51) wheeze. Four pesticides were associated with at least one wheeze subtype: glyphosate, with both wheeze subtypes; diazinon and fly spray with only allergic wheeze; carbaryl with only non-allergic wheeze. Working weekly with mouldy hay was associated with allergic (OR: 1.88, 95% CI: 1.26 to 2.80) and non-allergic wheeze (OR: 1.69, 95% CI: 1.18 to 2.42).
Conclusion Use of specific pesticides and certain farm activities may contribute to wheeze among farm women.
- Respiratory System
Data availability statement
Data are available upon reasonable request. Information on accessing data from the Agricultural Health Study is available at: https://aghealth.nih.gov/
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Contributors JAH, DPS, LEBF, SJL and PKH designed the data collection instruments and collected the data. JYI and AM conducted the statistical analyses. JYI drafted the manuscript. JYI, AM, DMU, DPS, LEBF, SJL, PKH and JAH reviewed and provided critical comments on the draft manuscript. All authors reviewed and approved the final manuscript. JAH is the guarantor of this work.
Funding This work was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Health, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (Z01-ES-049030) and National Cancer Institute (Z01-CP-010119).
Disclaimer 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 and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Mention of any company or product does not constitute endorsement.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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