More Attention to On-Farm Pollutants Called for

CANADA - The Vaccine Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) is calling for more action to address on farm pollutants and reduce their impact on the workers who are exposed to them, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 5 November 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

The health concerns of workers exposed to on farm pollutants have received increased attention lately.

Dr. Chandrashekhar Charavaryamath, with Vaccine Infectious disease organization, says concentrated livestock production units are able to provide food for a growing population but they produce large amounts of manure and various emissions, hence barn workers are exposed to higher levels of contaminants for longer periods.

Dr. Chandrashekhar Charavaryamath-Vaccine Infectious Disease Organization

The work environment inside the confined animal production facilities is very complex.

It mainly contains dust, many microbes and their components such as endotoxin and glucans, animal proteins, various gases and chemicals and veterinary antibiotics.

Although most of these compounds have been linked to adverse health effects, endotoxin is considered to be central to the health effects.

The exposed workers typically experience fever, drowsiness and change in their lung function indices on their first day of their work inside the barn.

Those workers who are exposed for a longer time experience various respiratory diseases such as bronchitis, rhinitis, pharyngitis and asthma like symptoms.

They also experience annual decline in their lung function.

Although no single method may be enough, wearing a proper mask, reducing dust levels, frequent cleaning of the floors and efficient manure management could possibly reduce the exposure levels significantly.

Dr. Charavaryamath suggests, while some industries have educated their workers to wear masks and they're taking steps to reduce the levels of dust and endotoxin, the impact of farm pollutants on health and the environment need to be addressed.

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