Personal exposure to dust, endotoxin and crystalline silica in California agriculture.
AIMS: The aim of this study was to measure personal exposure to dust, endotoxin and crystalline silica during various agricultural operations in California over a period of one year. METHODS: Ten farms were randomly selected in Yolo and Solano counties and workers were invited to wear personal sampling equipment to measure inhalable and respirable dust levels during various operations. The samples were analysed for endotoxin using the Limulus Amebocyte Lysate assay and crystalline silica content using X-ray diffraction. In total 142 inhalable samples and 144 respirable samples were collected. RESULTS: The measurements showed considerable difference in exposure levels between various operations, in particular for the inhalable fraction of the dust and the endotoxin. Machine harvesting of tree crops (Geometric mean (GM) = 45.1 mg/m3) and vegetables (GM = 7.9 mg/m3), and cleaning of poultry houses (GM = 6.7 mg/m3) showed the highest inhalable dust levels. Cleaning of poultry houses also showed the highest inhalable endotoxin levels (GM = 1861 EU/m3). Respirable dust levels were generally low, except for machine harvesting of tree crops (GM = 2.8 mg/m3) and vegetables (GM = 0.9 mg/m3). Respirable endotoxin levels were also low. For the inhalable dust fraction, levels were reduced considerably when an enclosed cabin was present. The percentage of crystalline silica was overall higher in the respirable dust samples than the inhalable dust samples. CONCLUSIONS: Considerable differences exist in personal exposure levels to dust, endotoxin and crystalline silica during various agricultural operations in California agriculture with some operations showing very high levels. (+info)
Mechanical maceration of alfalfa.
Maceration is an intensive forage-conditioning process that can increase field drying rates by as much as 300%. Because maceration shreds the forage and reduces its rigidity, improvements in bulk density, silage compaction, and ensiling characteristics have been observed. Macerating forage also increases the surface area available for microbial attachment in the rumen, thereby increasing forage digestibility and animal performance. Feeding trials with sheep have shown increases in DMI of 5 to 31% and increases in DM digestibility of from 14 to 16 percentage units. Lactation studies have demonstrated increases in milk production and BW gain for lactating Holstein cows; however, there is a consistent decrease in milk fat percentage when dairy cattle are fed macerated forage. In vitro studies have shown that maceration decreases lag time associated with NDF digestion and increases rate of NDF digestion. In situ digestibility studies have shown that maceration increases the size of the instantly soluble DM pool and decreases lag time associated with NDF digestion, but it may not consistently alter the rate or extent of DM and NDF digestion. (+info)
Cancer mortality in agricultural regions of Minnesota.
Because of its unique geology, Minnesota can be divided into four agricultural regions: south-central region one (corn, soybeans); west-central region two (wheat, corn, soybeans); northwest region three (wheat, sugar beets, potatoes); and northeast region four (forested and urban in character). Cancer mortality (1980-1989) in agricultural regions one, two, and three was compared to region four. Using data compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics, cancer mortality was summarized by 5-year age groups, sex, race, and county. Age-standardized mortality rate ratios were calculated for white males and females for all ages combined, and for children aged 0-14. Increased mortality rate ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were observed for the following cancer sites: region one--lip (men), standardized rate ratio (SRR) = 2.70 (CI, 1.08-6.71); nasopharynx (women), SRR = 3.35 (CI, 1.20-9.31); region two--non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (women), SRR = 1.35 (CI, 1.09-1.66); and region three--prostate (men), SRR = 1.12 (CI, 1.00-1.26); thyroid (men), SRR = 2.95 (CI, 1.35-6.44); bone (men), SRR = 2.09 (CI, 1. 00-4.34); eye (women), SRR = 5.77 (CI, 1.90-17.50). Deficits of smoking-related cancers were noted. Excess cancers reported are consistent with earlier reports of agriculturally related cancers in the midwestern United States. However, reports on thyroid and bone cancer in association with agricultural pesticides are few in number. The highest use of fungicides occurs in region three. Ethylenebisdithiocarbamates, whose metabolite is a known cause of thyroid cancer in rats, are frequently applied. This report provides a rationale for evaluation of the carcinogenic potential of this suspect agent in humans. (+info)
Organic: What's in a name?
The organic foods industry is booming: by one estimate, the market for organic foods is worth $4 billion annually and is expected to grow at a rate of more than 24% per year. Faced with the threat of pesticide exposures and other food safety problems, many consumers are turning to organic foods in hopes of finding a healthy alternative, but there is currently no consistency in organic food labeling and no guarantee that foods labeled as organic are actually grown and processed in a purely organic fashion. There is also controversy about whether the label "organic" covers such new technologies as irradiation and genetic engineering. As part of the 1990 Farm Bill, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working to develop a proposed rule on organic foods. The rule would regulate the allowable methods, practices, and substances used in producing and handling crops and their processed products. The first draft of the proposed rule, released in December 1997, met with unprecedented opposition, which centered around the fact that the proposal appeared to virtually ignore the recommendations of a standards board formed to assist in the rule's development. Other criticism opposed three practices put forward for comment by the USDA: irradiation, genetic engineering, and the use of sewage sludge in farming. Due to the vehemence of the opposition to its original proposal, the USDA has decided to rewrite the proposed rule. In preparation for that proposal, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service released three issue papers in October 1998 for public comment. The 10,000-plus comments received in response to those papers will be incorporated into the second draft proposal, due out later this year. (+info)
Farm worker illness following exposure to carbofuran and other pesticides--Fresno County California, 1998.
In California, suspected pesticide-related illnesses and suspected work-related illnesses and injuries are reportable conditions. On July 31, 1998, the Occupational Health Branch of the California Department of Health Services (CDHS) received a report from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) of a pesticide exposure incident in Fresno County involving 34 farm workers. CDHS investigated this incident by reviewing medical records of the 34 workers and interviewing 29. The findings indicated that the workers became ill after early reentry into a cotton field that had been sprayed with a cholinesterase-inhibiting carbamate pesticides (+info)
Caregiver behaviors and resources influence child height-for-age in rural Chad.
The purpose of this study was to identify caregiver characteristics that influence child nutritional status in rural Chad, when controlling for socioeconomic factors. Variables were classified according to the categories of a UNICEF model of care: caregiving behaviors, household food security, food and economic resources and resources for care and health resources. Sixty-four households with 98 children from ages 12 to 71 mo were part of this study. Caregivers were interviewed to collect information on number of pregnancies, child feeding and health practices, influence on decisions regarding child health and feeding, overall satisfaction with life, social support, workload, income, use of income, and household food expenditures and consumption. Household heads were questioned about household food production and other economic resources. Caregiver and household variables were classified as two sets of variables, and separate regression models were run for each of the two sets. Significant predictors of height-for-age were then combined in the same regression model. Caregiver influence on child-feeding decisions, level of satisfaction with life, willingness to seek advice during child illnesses, and the number of individuals available to assist with domestic tasks were the caregiver factors associated with children's height-for-age. Socioeconomic factors associated with children's height-for-age were the amount of harvested cereals, the sources of household income and the household being monogamous. When the caregiver and household socioeconomic factors were combined in the same model, they explained 54% of the variance in children's height-for-age, and their regression coefficients did not change or only slightly increased, except for caregiver's propensity to seek advice during child illnesses, which was no longer significant. These results indicate that caregiver characteristics influence children's nutritional status, even while controlling for the socioeconomic status of the household. (+info)
Water pollution and human health in China.
China's extraordinary economic growth, industrialization, and urbanization, coupled with inadequate investment in basic water supply and treatment infrastructure, have resulted in widespread water pollution. In China today approximately 700 million people--over half the population--consume drinking water contaminated with levels of animal and human excreta that exceed maximum permissible levels by as much as 86% in rural areas and 28% in urban areas. By the year 2000, the volume of wastewater produced could double from 1990 levels to almost 78 billion tons. These are alarming trends with potentially serious consequences for human health. This paper reviews and analyzes recent Chinese reports on public health and water resources to shed light on what recent trends imply for China's environmental risk transition. This paper has two major conclusions. First, the critical deficits in basic water supply and sewage treatment infrastructure have increased the risk of exposure to infectious and parasitic disease and to a growing volume of industrial chemicals, heavy metals, and algal toxins. Second, the lack of coordination between environmental and public health objectives, a complex and fragmented system to manage water resources, and the general treatment of water as a common property resource mean that the water quality and quantity problems observed as well as the health threats identified are likely to become more acute. (+info)
Predictors of crop diversification: a survey of tobacco farmers in North Carolina (USA).
OBJECTIVE: To assess the attitudes and behaviours of North Carolina tobacco farmers around crop diversification. DESIGN: Cross-sectional telephone survey. PARTICIPANTS: Active tobacco farmers in 14 North Carolina counties (n = 1236), interviewed between January and April 1997 (91% response rate). OUTCOME MEASURES: Interest in, experience with, and perceived barriers to diversification. RESULTS: Most farmers (95%) grew/raised a commodity other than tobacco (mean = 2.8). A total of 60% of farmers expressed interest in trying other on-farm activities to supplement their tobacco and 60% reported taking action in the past year around supplementation. Younger age and college education were positively associated with interest. College education, off-farm income, and larger farm size were associated with the number of actions taken. For perceived external barriers to diversification, use of tobacco, percent income from tobacco, lack of college education, and younger age were most strongly associated with the number of barriers. For internal barriers (personal factors), percent income from tobacco, use of tobacco, and lack of college education were most strongly associated with the number of barriers. CONCLUSIONS: Most farmers were involved in diverse operations and expressed interest in continuing to diversify, although the breadth of diversification was narrow. Farmers noted many barriers to diversifying. If conventional production and marketing techniques are employed for non-tobacco alternatives, these alternatives may not provide the sustainable profitability that tobacco has afforded. Competition from foreign tobacco growers is the primary threat to the future of American growers and tobacco dependent communities. (+info)