Time of farmers' exposure to biological factors in agricultural working environment.
Anna Mołocznik 1 1 - Department of Occupational Physical Hazards, Institute of Agricultural Medicine,Jaczewskiego 2, P.O. Box 185, 20-950 Lublin, Poland. Ann Agric Environ Med 2004; 11 (1): ICID: 142684
Working time in conditions of exposure to hazardous factors is an importantelement indispensable for the evaluation of human exposure in the working environment. Agricultural workis accompanied by co-occurrence of many risk factors threatening farmers' health, e.g. dust, elementsof the thermal environment, noise, vibration, chemical and biological agents. Biological factors causediseases with contagious, allergic or immuno-toxic backgrounds which constitute the majority of farmers'occupational diseases registered in Poland. Exposure to hazardous factors in agricultural working environmentis due to contact with plants, animals and organic wastes, more precisely--with microbes, plant and animalparticles present in aerogenic agricultural dust, as well as pathogens of contagious and invasive diseasespresent in contaminated soil, water and plants. Data concerning the duration of farmers' exposure tobiological and other factors of the working environment were obtained with the use of the Private FarmerWork Chart. Time-schedule observations concerned an annual work cycle. The study covered 30 farms withthe following production profiles: plant (Group A), animal (Group B) and mixed production (Group C).The total working time was: in Group A - from 106-163 % of the legal working time; in Group B - from75-147 %; in Group C - from 136-167 %. Among 48 work activities contributing to the full working cycleamong the farmers examined, 15 activities were accompanied by 5 factors. These were mainly field activitieswhich covered plant harvesting and fertilizing, chemical plant protection, as well as cultivation activities.Agricultural dust and elements of the thermal environment were the environmental factors most frequentlyaccompanying agricultural work, followed by contact with biological factors, noise, vibration, and chemicalagents. Biological factors are a specific element associated with 19 work activities, mainly the spreadingof manure, animal breeding and plant harvesting. Farmers' working time in conditions of exposure to thesefactors in the group of plant producers was 51 % of the total working time on average, among animal breeders--80% and in the case of mixed production--77 %.