Is dust the reason dairy farmers are more likely to have respiratory problems?
A new study in the Irish Medical Journal has found a high prevalence of work-related respiratory and upper airways symptoms among dairy farmers.
Researchers at the School of Health Sciences National University of Ireland Galway studied respiratory symptoms in a cohort of 126 dairy farmers.
Some 34.4pc had cough symptoms, 29.4pc had upper airway symptoms, 31.7pc had eye symptoms.
The authors suggest that the symptoms may be related to work-related dust.
Exposure to organic dust and its microbial constituents such as fungi, allergens and endotoxin have all been linked to the development or exacerbation of respiratory diseases or respiratory symptoms among farmers.
Recent research has shown that Irish dairy farmers can have high and variable levels of organic dust and endotoxin exposures, often in excess of recommended health based exposure limits.
In recent years there have been significant changes in work practices and processes in the farming community.
Despite these improvements dairy farmers continue to experience a high rate of work-related respiratory morbidity.