Work-related skin symptoms among Polish farmers exposed to plant dust

Radoslaw Spiewak, Czeslawa Skorska, Jacek Dutkiewicz

Institute of Agricultural Medicine, Lublin, Poland.

Source: Spiewak R, Skorska C, Dutkiewicz J. Work-related skin symptoms among Polish farmers exposed to plant dust. Contact Dermatitis 2000; 42 (Suppl 2): 62-63.

Objectives: To assess the prevalence of skin symptoms among farmers exposed to organic dust of plant origin.

Material and methods: In 1998 and 1999 a survey on occupational diseases among farmers in Poland was carried out. As a part of the survey, 101 farmers in Lublin Voivodship (an administrative district in Eastern Poland) were examined using a standardised questionnaire and clinical examination by a dermatologist. The farmers were divided into 3 groups: 41 grain growers, 29 flax growers, and 23 hop growers. They were employed in typical Polish small to middle family farms. The questionnaire and examination were focused on skin symptoms related to working with the particular plant.

Results: Among the 101 patients questioned and examined in this study, 28 reported skin symptoms related to work. These ranged from pruritus without visible skin changes to pronounced eczema. In 16 out of 101 farmers, grain dust was the only or one of more provoking factors.

Group Grain growers Flax growers Hop growers
Number of farmers 49 (26 M, 23 F) 29 (15 M, 14 F) 23 (13 M, 10 F)
Mean age (range) 41 (20-69) years 40 (22-63) years 51 (20-75) years
Time of employment 26.5 (4-53) years 23 (3-49) years 31.5 (9-62) years
Cases with skin symptoms 10 (24.4%) 10 (34.5%) 8 (34.8%)
Causative factor* grain in 9 cases
other in 1 case
flax in 4 cases
grain in 6 cases
other in 1 case
hop in 5 cases
grain in 1 case
other in 2 cases
*note that in one person more than 1 causative could be identified, therefore the number of causative factors does not necessarily equal the number of cases.

Conclusion: Plant dust produced during harvesting and processing grain, flax and hop has strong irritating and/or allergising properties and is capable of provoking skin symptoms in almost every third farmer.

For personal use only. © Radoslaw Spiewak.

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