Epidemiology

A study comparing respiratory symptoms of European (n = 7188) and Cali-fornian (N = 1939) farmers over the last year found 12.7% of the Europeans and 23.9% of the Californians suffered from rhinitis in the last year. In the past year, 2.8% of the European farmers and 4.7% of the Californian farmers suffered from asthma. Table 26.1 summarizes which crop was more associated with which disease (not all crops had sufficient numbers for

Table 26.1. Type of farming as a risk factor for respiratory symptoms. Adjusted odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals, adjusted for age, sex, smoking status, other crop exposures, using non-exposed farmers as the reference group._

Crop farmed

Rhinitis

Asthma

Grain

1.13 (1.00-1.29)

N/A

Vegetables

0.77 (0.61-0.97)

0.52 (0.32-0.83)

Tomatoes

0.77 (0.57-1.04)

N/A

Root crops

N/A

1.28 (0.94-1.75)

Fruits/berries

1.30 (1.10-1.54)

N/A

Nuts

1.23 (1.00-1.51)

N/A

Flowers

1.29 (0.98-1.70)

1.71 (1.06-2,77)

Cotton

1.77 (1.08-2.89)

N/A

Data from: Monso E, Schenker M, Radon K, et al. (12).

Data from: Monso E, Schenker M, Radon K, et al. (12).

evaluation). Cotton farming was more highly associated with rhinitis than any other crop, though nut, fruit/berry, and grain crops were associated with a statistically significant increase in risk, and flowers were almost statistically significant in their association. Asthma was most statistically associated with flower crops, although grain crops were not evaluated, a mild association was found between root crops and asthma. The table even suggests that vegetable farming is associated with significantly less rhinitis and asthma. Though not included in Table 26.1, oilseed rape flour or oil is often associated with occupational asthma. Although latex allergies have been well-documented in hospital workers, natural rubber plantation workers have at least 4 times the exposure to natural rubber latex aeroallergens as hospital workers according to one study (Table 26.1) (12,13,14).

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