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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2004 Jun 15;169(12):1308-13. Epub 2004 Apr 7.

Diesel exhaust, solvents, and other occupational exposures as risk factors for wheeze among farmers.

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Epidemiology Branch and Biostatistics, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-2233, USA.


Farmers engage in activities that result in exposure to diesel exhaust, solvents, welding fumes, and other respiratory irritants. Using the Agricultural Health Study, a cohort of pesticide applicators in Iowa and North Carolina, we evaluated the odds of wheeze associated with nonpesticide occupational exposures. We used logistic regression models controlling for age, state, smoking, and history of asthma or atopy to evaluate odds of wheeze in the past year among the 20898 farmers who provided complete information on all covariates. Driving diesel tractors was associated with elevated odds of wheeze (odds ratio = 1.31; 95% confidence interval = 1.13, 1.52); the odds ratio for driving gasoline tractors was 1.11 (95% confidence interval = 1.02, 1.21). A duration-response relationship was observed for driving diesel tractors but not for driving gasoline tractors. Activities involving solvent exposure, including painting and use of solvents for cleaning, were associated with an increased odds of wheeze in a duration-dependent fashion. The highest odds of wheeze for farm activities were for daily painting (odds ratio = 1.82; 95% confidence interval = 0.89, 3.73), an indication of daily solvent exposure. These results add to the growing body of evidence of adverse respiratory effects of diesel exposure on the lung and suggest exposure to solvents may contribute as well.

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