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Rev Saude Publica. 2006 Oct;40(5):827-36.

[Farm work, dust exposure and respiratory symptoms among farmers].

[Article in Portuguese]

Author information

  • 1Programa de Pós-Graduação em Epidemiologia, Departamento de Medicina Social, Universidade Federal de Pelotas, Pelotas, RS, Brazil. neicef@italnet.com.br



Environmental working conditions in rural areas, notably exposure to organic and mineral dusts, have been associated with increases in respiratory diseases. The objective of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of respiratory symptoms among farmers and the associations of these with occupational risk factors.


This cross-sectional study was undertaken in 1996 with 1,379 farmers from Southern Brazil. Sociodemographic and farming-production parameters were collected, as were levels of exposure to organic and mineral dusts. Respiratory symptoms were assessed by a modified version of American Thoracic Society-Division of Lung Disease questionnaire. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used in analyses, controlling for confounding factors.


The majority (52%) of interviewees worked in activities with intense exposure to dust. Workers on farms with better economic indicators had a lower prevalence of respiratory symptoms. Poultry workers showed more symptoms of chronic respiratory disease (OR=1.60; 95% CI: 1.05-2.42). Farmers exposed to high concentrations of dust had more than 70% higher risk of asthma symptoms (OR=1.71; 95% CI: 1.10-2.67) and chronic respiratory disease symptoms (OR=1.77; 95% CI: 1.25-2.50).


The rural workers studied herein were exposed to high levels of organic and mineral dusts. Those exposed to higher dust concentrations, such as poultry workers, showed an increased risk of work-related respiratory symptoms. The implementation of respiratory protection programs is recommended, emphasizing workers involved with poultry production.

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