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Editorials |

Life-Long Exposures on the Farm, Respiratory Symptoms, and Lung Function Decline

Susanna G. von Essen, MD, MPH; Daniel E. Banks, MD, MS, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

Correspondence to: Daniel E. Banks, MD, MS, FCCP, Professor and Head, Department of Medicine, Louisiana State University School of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Room 6-203, 1501 Kings Hwy, Shreveport, LA 71130; e-mail: dbanks49@yahoo.com

Dr. Banks is Professor and Head, Department of Medicine, Louisiana State University School of Medicine. Dr. von Essen is Professor of Medicine, Section of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Nebraska.


The authors have reported to the ACCP that no significant conflicts of interest exist with any companies/organizations whose products or services may be discussed in this article.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (www.chestjournal.org/site/misc/reprints.xhtml).


© 2009 American College of Chest Physicians


Chest. 2009;136(3):662-663. doi:10.1378/chest.09-0944
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Eduard and colleagues,1 in this issue of CHEST (see page 716), compare the respiratory health of Norwegian farmers who raise crops and livestock (in particular, a number of different types of livestock) to that of crop farmers. They measured the respiratory effects of livestock farming vs crop farming by addressing atopy, lung function, and personal gas and dust exposures, including exposures to a number of the organic and inorganic components of dust, in a cross-sectional report. There are several attractive aspects of this report. The first is the study design, in which the population was relatively large and the median duration of farming exceeded 24 years. In this situation, even relatively small exposures could have a cumulative effect. Both the reference group and the “exposed” group were farmers and likely were a good demographic match. Second, farmers from 127 farms had personal respiratory exposures measured in 288 sampling sessions while undertaking tasks such as harvesting, animal tending, and manure handling. The findings add insight to previous reports24 that have addressed respiratory symptoms and lung function in farmers. Third, atopy was determined by measuring specific IgE levels in approximately one-quarter of the nearly 5,000 total participants.

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