Escalating trends in global warming place vulnerable agricultural populations at increased risk for heat-related illness (HRI). Agricultural workers are highly susceptible to heat stress, given routine occupational exposure to hot, humid environments. The average annual heat-related death rate for agricultural workers is nearly 20 times greater than that of the U.S. civilian workforce. There is a paucity of research characterizing the hazardous work environment for this vulnerable agricultural population and no studies have documented the factors that lead to the increased heat-related morbidity and mortality observed among farmworkers. To date investigations on HRI in this population have been limited to surveys of perceptions of heat exposure, and self- reported histories of heat related symptoms and work practices to decrease risk of heat exposure. We propose to study the threat of HRI in farmworker populations built upon established research partnerships with farmworker advocacy groups in Florida. Our preliminary work has given us important information on the feasibility of this work in a vulnerable working population. In this application we propose to more thoroughly assess the nature of heat related symptoms in multiple farmworker populations by conducting sophisticated biomonitoring data to explore the relationship between individual physiologic responses to heat stress and prevalence of HRI symptoms within and between occupational settings. To achieve this goal, we will: (1) Characterize worker exposure to heat related hazards and work activity characteristics of fernery, crop, and nursery workers in Central Florida;(2) Characterize the physiologic heat stress response (e.g., HRI and PSI) and worker vulnerability to heat exposures among fernery, crop, and nursery workers in Central Florida;and (3) Determine the extent to which heat related hazards and worker vulnerability influence heat stress response among fernery, crop, and nursery workers in Central Florida. This work will provide critical, physiologically- based information regarding the heat-related hazards of agricultural work and will inform the development of interventions to decrease the risks of HRI associated with the work environment of these particularly vulnerable and unique farmworker populations. This project will support NIOSH research priorities by reducing environmental and occupational health disparities and promoting health through heat-prevention strategies in this and other at-risk occupational populations.

Public Health Relevance

Agricultural workers are highly susceptible to heat stress, given routine occupational exposure to hot, humid environments. In this application we will assess the nature of heat related symptoms in multiple farmworker populations by conducting biomonitoring surveillance to explore the relationship between an individual farmworker's physiologic responses to heat stress and prevalence of HRI symptoms. This work will provide critical information on the magnitude of heat related hazards of agricultural work and will inform the development of interventions to decrease the risks of HRI in these vulnerable farmworker populations.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
1R01OH010657-01
Application #
8748921
Study Section
Safety and Occupational Health Study Section (SOH)
Program Officer
Childress, Adele M
Project Start
2014-09-01
Project End
2018-08-31
Budget Start
2014-09-01
Budget End
2015-08-31
Support Year
1
Fiscal Year
2014
Total Cost
$566,264
Indirect Cost
$152,140
Name
Emory University
Department
None
Type
Schools of Nursing
DUNS #
066469933
City
Atlanta
State
GA
Country
United States
Zip Code
30322