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Illnesses associated with farming

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  • At least six disorders are associated with exposure to airborne dusts in farming: (SEE: Respiratory Conditions)
    • 1. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP), caused by exposure to antigens found in silage and in spoiled hay and grain. HP is commonly seen on dairy farms but has also been found on farms where grain is stored in drying bins and is found in poultry houses and mushroom houses
    • 2. Organic dust toxic syndrome (ODTS), include those uncapping silos on dairy farms, cleaning grain bins, moving moldy grain, and working in swine confinement facilities.
    • 3. Chronic bronchitis (CB), the precise cause of CB, other than airborne dust, has not confinement workers, and both groups have exhibited symptom.
    • 5. Asthma, can be triggered by many farm antigens.
    • 6. Mucous membrane irritation (MMI), occurs after exposure to large amounts of organic dust.
      • In addition to airborne dusts, some gases can cause acute toxicity. The primary locations of these gases are silos, manure pits, and modern semi-enclosed animal production buildings.
      • Hydrogen sulphide, methane, ammonia, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide are some of the toxic gases emanating from manure pits, especially when the manure is being agitated. High levels of ammonia have been documented in poultry and swine confinement facilities, especially in winter. Concentrations of ammonia in these facilities would ordinarily be only a strong irritant to the eyes, nose, and throat but when combined with organic dusts could cause pulmonary damage.
  • Cancers. Leukemia, Hodgkin's disease, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and cancers of the lip, skin, stomach, prostate, and brain have excessive occurrences in farmers. Cancers of the skin and lip are linked to increased exposure to the sun's ultraviolet radiation, an exposures to nitrates, pesticides, viruses, antigenic stimulants, and various fuels, oils, and solvents are suspected causes of many cancers. Some evidence indicates women on farms have higher incident rates of multiple myeloma than do farm men.
  • Pesticide Toxicity. Exposure to pesticides can produce acute and chronic toxic reactions. Acute reactions develop immediately after moderate or high exposures to pesticides. Symptoms of acute reactions include dizziness, vomiting, headache, fatigue, drowsiness, and skin rashes. Although this area of toxicity is not yet fully scientifically documented, some of the suspected chronic effects are central nervous system damage, lung diseases, soft tissue sarcoma, Hodgkin's disease, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, leukemia, and lung cancer.
  • Dermatitis. Among the agents causing dermatitis and related skin conditions are ammonia fertilizers, animal feed additives, pesticides, plants, sunlight, cattle, swine, sheep, moist and hot environments, and chiggers, bees, and wasps.
  • Musculoskeletal Syndromes. Low back pain, hip arthritis, and degenerative arthritis of the knee and upper extremities are the syndromes most often reported. Chronic vibration from tractors and farm machinery and repetitive trauma associated with farm work can lead to musculoskeletal syndromes.
  • Noise-induced Hearing Loss. is hearing loss caused by exposure to farm machinery, especially tractors SEE: Deaf and hearing-impaired persons
  • Stress-Related Mental Disorders. Some of these disorders appear to be related to isolation, and others result from agricultural stressors such as economic hardship and weather conditions. Factors beyond a farmer's control, such as reduced revenue, increased workload, weather, an management problems, were found to cause significant mental stress.

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