Respiratory health of California rice farmers

Stephen A Mccurdy, Thomas J. Ferguson, David F. Goldsmith, John E. Parker, Marc B Schenker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Rice farmers are occupationally exposed to agents that may affect respiratory health, including inorganic dusts and smoke from burning of agricultural waste. To assess respiratory health of this occupational group, we conducted a cross-sectional study, including a self-administered health and work questionnaire, spirometry, and chest radiography among 464 male California rice farmers. Mean age ± SD was 48.3 ± 15.2 yr; mean duration of rice farming was 25.7 ± 14.3 yr. Prevalences for respiratory symptoms were: chronic bronchitis (6.3%), physician-diagnosed asthma (7.1%), and persistent wheeze (8.8%). Chronic cough was reported by 7.1% of respondents and was associated with reported hours per year burning rice stubble. Mean FEV1 and FVC were at expected values. FEV1 was inversely associated with years working in rice storage and use of heated rice dryers. Mean FEF25-75 was 93% of expected and was inversely associated with rice storage activities involving unheated rice driers. ILO profusion scores ≥ 1/0 for small irregular opacities were seen in 18 (10.1%) of 178 chest radiographs. Study findings suggest increased asthma prevalence among California rice farmers. Radiologic findings consistent with dust or fiber exposure were increased compared with those of the general population, although no associations with specific farming activities were identified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1553-1559
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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