Occupational agriculture organic dust exposure and its relationship to asthma and airway inflammation in adults

Javen Wunschel, Jill A. Poole

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Abstract: Objective: Recent studies have made advances into understanding the complex agriculture work exposure environment in influencing asthma in adults. The objective of this study is to review studies of occupational agricultural exposures including dust, animal, and pesticide exposures with asthma in adult populations. Data sources: PubMed databases were searched for articles pertaining to farming, agriculture, asthma, occupational asthma, airway inflammation, respiratory disease, lung disease, pesticides, and organic dust. Study selections: Studies chosen were published in or after 1999 that included adults and asthma and farming/agricultural work or agricultural exposures and airway inflammatory disease measurements. Results: The data remain inconclusive. Several retrospective studies demonstrate agricultural work to be protective against asthma in adults, especially with increased farming exposure over time. In contrast, other studies find increased risk of asthma with farming exposures, especially for the non-atopic adult. Mechanistic and genetic studies have focused on defining the wide variety and abundance of microorganisms within these complex organic dusts that trigger several pattern recognition receptor pathways to modulate the hosts’ response. Conclusion: Asthma risk depends on the interplay of genetic factors, gender, atopic predisposition, type of livestock, pesticide exposure, and magnitude and duration of exposure in the adult subject. Longer exposure to occupational farming is associated with decreased asthma risk. However, studies also suggest that agricultural work and multiple types of livestock are independent risk factors for developing asthma. Prospective and longitudinal studies focusing on genetic polymorphisms, objective assessments, and environmental sampling are needed to further delineate the influence of agriculture exposure in the adult worker.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)471-477
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Asthma
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 27 2016


  • Adaptive
  • farm
  • immunology
  • innate
  • lung

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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