History of acute symptoms (cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, fever, stuffy nose, and skin itching/rash) following exposure to grain dust was obtained from 661 male and 535 female current and former farmers. These symptoms were relatively common: 60% of male and 25% of female farmers reported at least one such symptom on exposure to grain dust. Association of cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, and stuffy nose with skin reactivity and capacity to form IgE is consistent with an allergic nature of these symptoms. Barley and oats dust were perceived as dust most often producing symptoms. On the other hand, grain fever showed a different pattern, i.e., it was not associated with either skin reactivity or total IgE. Smoking might modify the susceptibility to react to grain dust with symptoms. Only those who reported wheezing on exposure to grain dust may have an increased risk to develop chronic airflow obstruction.
This review describes health problems in persons primarily exposed to grain dust. The main epidemiological investigations from the nineteen seventies and eighties are reviewed. The commonest complaints were mucus membrane irritation. In the majority of investigations, an excess incidence of chronic bronchitis was encountered and it cannot be disproved that asthma developed in a number of the employees. Influenza-like symptoms compatible with the organic dust syndrome have been described in several investigations from silos but allergic alveolitis has not been described in this branch. The latter condition has been encountered in farm workers working with mouldy grain. With dust concentrations of about the Danish threshold limit value, many health problems still occur. The following prophylactic measures are recommended: Effective drying of corn before storage, effective ventilation and cleaning and covering of dusty working procedures. Epidemiological investigations are proposed in the Danish raw material sector to illustrate health problems related to grain dust. These investigations should be combined with qualitative and quantitative occupational hygienic measurements of dust.
The authors presented materials on respiratory diseases among workers of contemporary battery farms. Findings are that occupational dust of animal and plant origin is a major risk factor in respiratory diseases development. Clinical, physiologic and immunologic studies proved genesis of chronic nonspecific lung diseases.