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Mold sensitization among farmers in the Agricultural Health Study.

Endres S; Green BJ; Henneberger PK; Hoppin JA
Am J Epidemiol 2011 Jun; 173(Suppl 11):S320
Farmers perform a variety of tasks that result in their exposure to fungal agents. Few studies have characterized the relationship between farm factors and mold sensitization in the agricultural environment. To explore factors related to atopy and mold sensitization among farmers, we used serum and questionnaire data from 677 adult male farmers from the Agricultural Health Study (AHS), a cohort of pesticide applicators from North Carolina (NC) and Iowa (IA). All sera were analyzed for both total immunoglobulin E (tIgE) and specific IgE (sIgE) to molds using a mixture of mold antigens. The prevalence of atopy (tIgE greater than or equal to 100kU/L) was 21%. Each of the 28 farmers (4%) who were mold mix positive had at least one sIgE to mold greater than or equal to 0.35kU/L based on testing of sIgE to ten common fungal agents; 25% of mold positive individuals were not classified as atopic. While atopy was greater for NC than IA farmers (odds ratio (OR) ¼ 1.5, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) 1.0-2.1), mold sensitization did not differ by state. We used logistic regression to assess factors associated with atopy and mold sensitization while adjusting for state. Farmers who raised cotton (OR ¼ 3.3, 95% CI 1.2-9.1), tobacco (OR ¼ 2.7, 95% CI 1.2-5.9), or any animals ten years earlier (OR ¼ 3.2, 95% CI 1.3-8.3) were more likely to be mold sensitized than farmers not performing these activities; these activities were not associated with atopy. While our study was limited by a small sample size and low prevalence of mold sensitization, the results suggest that agricultural practices may be associated with mold sensitization and may differ from those associated with atopy.
Agricultural-industry; Agricultural-workers; Agriculture; Antifungals; Biohazards; Biological-effects; Biological-monitoring; Farmers; Fungal-diseases; Fungal-infections; Fungi; Immune-system; Molds; Questionnaires; Work-areas; Worker-health; Work-operations
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Healthcare and Social Assistance; Services
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American Journal of Epidemiology
Page last reviewed: March 18, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division