To quantify the respiratory disease burden among agricultural workers, we examined the 1988-1998 National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) "Multiple Cause of Death Data" and the 1988-1994 Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data (NHANES Ill). Proportionate mortality ratios (PMRs) were determined for 11 respiratory conditions among 6 agricultural groups: crop farm workers, livestock farm workers, farm managers, landscape and horticultural workers, forestry workers, and fishery workers. Prevalence ratios (PRs) were determined for 12 respiratory conditions among 3 agricultural groups: farm workers, farm managers, and other agricultural workers. Disease categories groups were based on the 9th International Classification of Diseases and the agricultural groups on the NCHS or NHANES III industry and occupation codes, respectively. Crop farm workers and livestock farm workers had significantly elevated mortality for several respiratory conditions, with mortality for hypersensitivity pneumonitis being 10 and 50 times higher than expected. Landscape and horticultural workers had significantly elevated mortality for abscess of the lung and mediastinum and chronic airways obstruction. Forestry workers had significantly elevated mortality for pulmonary tuberculosis, chronic airways obstruction, and pneumonia. Prevalence of wheeze was elevated for female farm workers, shortness of breath was elevated for farm workers who had ever smoked, and hay fever was elevated for black, non-Hispanic farm workers. Prevalence of asthma was elevated for other agricultural workers who had ever smoked. Farm workers had a PR of 173 for obstructive respiratory abnormality. Continued improvement in occupational health surveillance systems for agriculture is essential to help guide prevention efforts for respiratory disease.
Agriculture; Agricultural-industry; Agricultural-workers; Occupational-exposure; Farmers; Risk-factors; Risk-analysis; Mortality-rates; Mortality-data; Respiratory-hypersensitivity; Respiratory-irritants; Respiratory-system-disorders; Pulmonary-disorders; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Surveillance-programs