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Respiratory hazards of livestock confinement workers.

Donham KJ
Proceedings of the VII International Congress of Rural Medicine, September 17-21, Salt Lake City, Utah. International Association of Agricultural Medicine, 1978 Sep; :224-234
Respiratory hazards of livestock confinement workers were discussed. The nature and development of livestock confinement in the United States were considered. The features of a typical confinement facility were described. Health hazards associated with working in livestock confinement facilities were reviewed. These included exposures to toxic or asphyxiating gases, aerosolized particles, biohazards, and noise. Carbon-dioxide (124389), ammonia (7664417), hydrogen-sulfide (7783064), and methane (74828) have been found in almost every confinement building. Hydrogen-sulfide, released when the pit containing animal wastes was agitated, has caused several animal and human deaths. Particulates found in confinement buildings usually have high protein concentrations making them allergenic as well as irritating. The crowded conditions promote the spread of zoonotic diseases. Noise levels as high as 103 decibels have been measured in some buildings. The results of a questionnaire survey of respiratory symptoms in 125 owners of swine confinement buildings were discussed. A high incidence of symptoms such as scratchy throat, fever, wheezing, and muscular aches and pains was found. Only 16 percent of the subjects reported no symptoms. Most of the asymptomatic subjects were nonsmokers whereas nearly all of the smokers reported symptoms. Eighty five percent of the subjects with the most severe symptoms had a history of allergies. Twelve percent of the subjects reported delayed symptoms occurring 4 to 6 hours after work. The author concludes that important occupational health hazards are associated with work in livestock confinement buildings. Gases and aerosolized particulates represent major hazards in the buildings. Preventive aspects should include interdisciplinary studies by agricultural engineers and environmental scientists to improve the design of the buildings, and wearing respiratory protection, such as a disposable dust mask.
NIOSH-Grant; Grants-other; Agricultural-workers; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Epidemiology; Clinical-symptoms; Occupational-health; Air-quality; Indoor-air-pollution; Toxic-gases; Questionnaires; Tobacco-smoke; Indoor-environmental-quality
Prev Med & Environmental Hlth University of Iowa Inst/agric Med & Environ Hlth Iowa Oakdale, Iowa 52319
124-38-9; 7664-41-7; 7783-06-4; 74-82-8
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Proceedings of the VII International Congress of Rural Medicine, September 17-21, Salt Lake City, Utah
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University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division