Effects of exposure to grain dust in Polish farmers: work-related symptoms and immunologic response to microbial antigens associated with dust.
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Department of Occupational Biohazards, Institute of Agricultural Medicine, Lublin, Poland
Clinic of Lung Diseases, Medical Academy, Lublin, Poland
Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, School of Public Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA
Ann Agric Environ Med. 1998;5(2):147–153
Medical examinations were performed in a group of 76 Polish farmers heavily exposed to grain dust during harvesting and threshing, and in a group of 63 healthy urban dwellers not exposed to organic dusts (controls). The examinations included: interview concerning the occurrence of respiratory disorders and work-related symptoms, physical examination, lung function tests, and allergological tests comprising skin prick test with 4 microbial antigens associated with grain dust and agar-gel precipitation test with 12 microbial antigens. As many as 34 farmers (44.7%) reported the occurrence of work-related symptoms during harvesting and threshing. The most common was dry cough reported by 20 individuals (26.3%). Dyspnoea was reported by 15 farmers (19.7%), tiredness by 12 (15.7%), chest tightness by 8 (10.5%), plugging of nose and hoarseness by 5 each (6. 5%). No control subjects reported these work-related symptoms. The mean spirometric values in the examined group of farmers were within the normal range, but a significant post-shift decrease of these values was observed after work with grain. The farmers showed a frequency of the positive early skin reactions to environmental allergens in the range of 10.8 - 45.5%, and a frequency of positive precipitin reactions in range of 3.9 - 40.8%. The control group responded to the majority of allergens with a significantly lower frequency of positive results compared to the farmers. The obtained results showed a high response of grain farmers to inhalant microbial allergens and indicate a potential risk of occupational respiratory diseases (such as allergic alveolitis, asthma, Organic Dust Toxic Syndrome) among this population