Michael Nasterlack and Andreas Zober
Key words: liver disease, kidney disease, agrochemicals, biological hazards, organic solvents, infections
Generally speaking, the occurrence of liver or kidney disease is not particularly associated with agriculture. Nevertheless, life in rural settings in general, as well as work in agriculture in particular, is associated with a variety of health risks that can affect liver or kidney. These risks are not completely different from those in urban life but can be present to a greater or lesser degree. Environmental exposures on farms are typically characterized by biological hazards, including a higher infectious disease risk; by the use of agricultural chemicals, including fertilizers and biocides; and by exposures to solvents, fuels, paints, and welding fumes associated with maintenance and repair work. On the other hand, pollution by traffic exhausts, industrial emissions, and other effluents of civilization play a comparatively smaller role in a rural environment. Health risks associated with general lifestyle choices, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and lack of physical exercise, are also present to a lesser extent on average than in urban settings. This association might not be true under all circumstances as with respect to alcohol consumption in wine-producing areas or to behavioral patterns in migrant farm workers as compared to farmers themselves. Diseases of poverty, such as malnutrition and infectious diseases not only put the farm worker at risk for hepatic and renal injuries, but also can cause diseases in their own right (1,2).
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