Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) is cultivated in more than 100 countries, and in 2004, some 5.73 million metric tons dry weight of tobacco were grown worldwide. The top five tobacco producers forecast for 2004 are China (2.01 million metric tons; 35.1%), Brazil (757 thousand metric tons; 13.2%), India (598 thousand metric tons; 10.4%), United States (358 thousand metric tons; 6.2%), and Malawi (138 thousand metric tons; 2.4%).2 Together, these five countries account for two-thirds of worldwide tobacco production. Tobacco farming presents several hazards to those who cultivate and harvest the plant. Although some of these hazards, such as pesticide exposure and musculoskeletal trauma, are faced by workers in other types of agricultural production, tobacco production presents some unique hazards, most notably acute nicotine poisoning, a condition also known as green tobacco sickness (GTS). GTS is an occupational poisoning that can affect workers who cultivate and harvest tobacco. It occurs when workers absorb nicotine through the skin as they come into contact -with leaves of the mature tobacco plant. GTS is characterized largely by nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle weakness, and dizziness. Historically, children have played a role in agricultural production in the United States, and they continue to do so today.I This includes tobacco farrning. The North American Guidelines for Children's Agricultural Tasks, a set of il ury prevention guidelines pl'epared by the National Children's Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, lists GTS as one of several hazards children face when working on tobacco farms. Children 17 years of age and younger who work on U.S. tobacco farms come from three main groups: members of farm families, migrant youth laborers (primarily Latinos), and other hired local children. All three groups are at risk for GTS. Beyond the U.S., tobacco production using child labor is an emerging topic of concern in developing nations.
Work-areas; Work-environment; Work-performance; Work-practices; Worker-health; Workers; Workplace-monitoring; Workplace-studies; Safety-education; Safety-measures; Safety-monitoring; Safety-personnel; Safety-practices; Safety-programs; Safety-research; Environmental-exposure; Environmental-factors; Environmental-hazards; Environmental-protection; Environmental-stress; Education; Tobacco; Tobacco-constituents; Tobacco-dusts; Tobacco-industry; Toxic-effects; Toxic-materials; Toxins; Agricultural-processes; Agricultural-products; Agricultural-workers; Agriculture; Farmers; Case-studies
R.H. McKnight, Southeast Center for Agricultural Health and Injury Prevention, College of Public Health, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40504