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Women's Safety and Health Issues at Work

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Job Area: Agriculture

In 2004, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated 580,000 women were working in agriculture, forestry, and fishing. In agriculture alone, about 24% of farmers are women. 1

Related Resources

Acute pesticide poisoning among agricultural workers in the United States, 1998-2005
The rate of acute pesticide poisoning was found to be almost twice as high in women agricultural workers compared to men agricultural workers.

Chronic bronchitis among nonsmoking farm women in the agricultural health study
This study looked at agricultural risk factors for chronic bronchitis among nonsmoking farm women. Exposures to pesticides, grain, and dust were found to be associated with chronic bronchitis among nonsmoking farm women.

DDT exposure, work in agriculture, and time to pregnancy among farmworkers in California
Longer time to conceive was found in female – but not male – migrant farmworkers who reported they were exposed to agricultural and home pesticides.

Effects of exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls and organochlorine pesticides on thyroid function during pregnancy
The study involving mostly young Latina women from farmworker families found that exposure to PCBs and/or hexachlorobenzene at background levels may affect thyroid function during pregnancy. Thyroid hormones of mothers may play an essential role in the development of their children.

Farmwork-related injury among farmers 50 years of age and older in Kentucky and South Carolina: a cohort study, 2002-2005
This longitudinal survey in which approximately half of the farmers were female found that women were at higher risk of injury when performing animal-related tasks or crop-related tasks compared to women performing neither of those tasks.

Gliomas and farm pesticide exposure in women: The Upper Midwest Health Study
This study examined exposures to pesticides among women in rural areas of Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. This is the first case-control study of glioma among rural residents that looked at the effect of pesticide exposure and work practices in women. Gliomas are a type of cancer in the brain or spine. No evidence for association of pesticide use and glioma risk was found.

Maternal occupational exposure to pesticides and the risk of musculoskeletal birth defects: a preliminary analysis
This study estimated job-related pesticide exposure among a group of women. Early findings from the study found that women whose jobs exposed them to herbicides and insecticides had a higher risk of having babies with a birth defect involving the intestines or a condition in which all or part of the arm or leg is missing.

Reciprocal association between atopy and respiratory symptoms in fully employed female, but not male, workers in swine operations
Findings of a study involving workers in large commercial swine operations suggested that exposures to inhaled substances in the workplace may have different effects on men and women.

Risk factors for female infertility in an agricultural region
This study looked at women working or living in an agricultural setting and the risk of female infertility. The results suggest that certain agricultural, residential and lifestyle choices may affect the risk of female infertility.

  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Household data: Employed persons in agriculture [Cited on January 29, 2008].
 
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  • Page last reviewed: April 23, 2012
  • Page last updated: September 27, 2013
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