Vidyya Medical News Service
Volume 6 Issue 169 Published - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 17-Jun-2004 Next Update - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 18-Jun-2004
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Farmers wheeze due to diesel tractor and solvent use

In research from the Agricultural Health Study involving 20,898 U.S. farmers, investigators found that driving tractors powered by diesel fuel, along with regular use of solvents to clean and paint, were consistently associated with increased risk of wheeze in this occupational group.

Researchers noted that 19 percent (3,922) of the farmers reported at least one episode of wheezing in the year prior to study enrollment, although only 5 percent mentioned a history of asthma.

Driving diesel tractors and trucks on the farm were consistently associated with elevated odds of wheeze, and the data showed a significant duration-response trend. However, the highest odds of wheeze for all farm activities were associated with using solvents daily.

All aspects of daily solvent exposure were associated with elevated odds of wheeze: painting, cleaning with gasoline, and cleaning with other solvents.

The respondents in the Agricultural Health Study were involved in diverse farming activities in the states of Iowa and North Carolina. They were mostly white males who ranged in age from 16 to 88.

From two questionnaires, researchers obtained information on smoking history, demographics, and data on wheeze, doctor diagnosis of asthma, and any history of eczema or hay fever.

They gathered information on common farm tasks, including types of tractors used, farm maintenance activities, and types of solvents employed.

The study appears in the second issue for June 2004 of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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