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High impact: reducing the impact of green tobacco sickness among Latino farmworkers.

Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2011-111, 2010 Oct; :1
Green tobacco sickness (GTS) is acute nicotine poisoning due to nicotine absorption through the skin. It is characterized by headache, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. GTS impairs the work productivity and threatens the health of minority farmworkers who supply most tobacco labor in the U.S. and small farmers who cultivate much of the tobacco abroad. Prior to this project, fewer than 40 scientific papers had been published on GTS, many of them case studies or reviews and some of them attributing the causes of the condition to heat, pesticides, or unknown chemicals in tobacco. The primary advice given to workers for prevention was to smoke. Few culturally-appropriate and medically accurate educational materials were available. The GTS project consisted of three related research projects that combined epidemiology and ethnography. It produced the first body of scholarly work on GTS epidemiology, as well as culturally appropriate educational materials for farmworkers and materials for medical personnel who treat GTS. The combined results from the study indicate that a significant proportion of workers and workdays are affected by GTS. Modifiable risk factors (changing out of wet clothes, wearing protective clothing) have potential for protecting workers from GTS and can be recommended instead of smoking. Varied understanding of GTS by growers, workers, and HCPs suggests that better understanding of the causes and prevention of GTS can improve worker safety and health. The GTS project has produced educational materials for farmworkers that translate the scientific results into three different media formats culturally and educationally appropriate for workers.
Agglutination; Agricultural-products; Agricultural-workers; Tobacco; Tobacco-constituents; Poison-control; Poisons; Farmers; Racial-factors; Injury-prevention; Skin-absorption; Education; Epidemiology; Protective-measures; Personal-protection; Protective-clothing
Publication Date
Document Type
Numbered Publication; Impact Sheet
Funding Amount
Funding Type
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2011-111; Grant-Number-R01-OH-003648
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Work Environment and Workforce: Special Populations
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division