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Occupational Respiratory Diseases: The Farmer, His Lungs, and Mold

Little-Known Agricultural Health Hazards

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “agriculture ranks among the most hazardous industries. Farmers are at very high risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries; and farming is one of the few industries in which family members (who often share the work and live on the premises) are also at risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries.”

The CDC estimates that over 167 agricultural workers suffer farm-related injuries every day (60,995 annually). The more common ages for fatal injuries range between 16 and 19 with 23% resulting from machinery malfunction or misuse, 19% involving motor vehicles, and 16% due to drowning. These leading sources constitute 58% of farm-related youth fatalities. The majority of nonfatal injuries among all age groups, however, are classified as either a sprain or strain.

In addition, the National Agricultural Safety Database (NASD) reports that “farmers account for more than 30% of adults disabled by respiratory illness.” Interestingly, the NASD also found that “a large percentage of farmers are nonsmokers.” This begs the question: In an industry known for its fresh-air work environment, what could possibly account for chronic respiratory conditions?
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black mold infestation

Signs You’ve Been Exposed to Mold

Although mold can be found in almost any environment, there are certain types and quantities that can put your health at risk. Mold is a fungi that thrives off warmth and moisture, quickly reproducing by sending spores that travel through the air until they find a surface where they can grow. There are thousands of different types of mold but only a few types that are commonly found indoors; some of these being especially toxic to many people. If you have signs of mold exposure, it is important to seek medical attention and have the mold removed from your environment.
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