Dairy workers are at risk for adverse respiratory health effects including hypersensitivity pneumonitis, decreased lung function, chronic bronchitis, and occupational asthma. Task specialization on modern dairies results in prolonged exposures to inhalation hazards. Organic dust and its biological constituents, collectively known as bioaerosols, are inextricably linked to respiratory symptoms and pulmonary function changes. Gram-negative bacterial endotoxins have been identified as a major risk factor for impaired respiratory health on dairies;emerging evidence suggests that Gram-positive bacteria (i.e., peptidoglycans) and fungi (i.e., - glucans) also play a role in explaining inflammation an respiratory disease in dairy workers. In addition to workplace exposures, intrinsic and cultural characteristics of the modern dairy workforce (>70% are Latino immigrants) increase worker vulnerability to acute and chronic respiratory disease. Immigrant workers in the US consistently face higher rates of fatal and non-fatal occupational illnesses and injuries. Latino workers with no prior occupational exposure to livestock have exhibited heightened susceptibility to the respiratory effects of bioaerosols. Development and testing of strategies to reduce dairy worker exposure to inflammatory aerosols must take into account the cultural context of the workforce, the economic and operational feasibility of the intervention(s), and the quality and quantity of th produced commodity. However, few studies have been designed specifically to evaluate control strategies to limit occupational exposure to inhalation hazards for the dairy workforce. The overall goal of this project is to collaborate with High Plains Intermountain Center for Agriculturl Health and Safety (HICAHS) dairy industry partners to develop and implement sustainable interventions to improve respiratory health in the dairy workforce. The objective of this research is to characterize microbial exposures among dairy workers to inform the design and evaluation of best practice interventions to reduce worksite inhalation hazards. As part of this project, we will: (1) determine respiratory response to three bioaerosol constituents based on tasks among dairy workers;(2) design and assess interventions that address bioaerosol exposures associated with respiratory health in dairy settings, with particular focus on workers in indoor settings (e.g., milking parlors);and (3) evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of interventio strategies to dairy industry partners and employees. Collaboration with industry partners to understand opportunities and barriers for programs to improve workforce health is a critical aspect of any intervention research. Given HICAHS'strength in bioaerosols research, more than a decade long cooperative partnerships with regional dairy producers, and extensive outreach channels, we expect that this project will inform best practices (r2p) to protect the vulnerable population of dairy workers disproportionately impacted by environmental exposures in the workplace.

Public Health Relevance

This project will better characterize bioaerosols to understand the implication of the presence of peptidoglycans and -glucans. From this information, two cost-effective interventions will be designed and tested and then disseminated through an outreach campaign to the dairy industry. This project addresses NORA Strategic Goals: 5.0 Agricultural Health (5.2, 5.4);2.0 Vulnerable Workers (2.2, 2.3, 2.4);and 3.0 Outreach/ Partnerships (3.1, 3.2). Through the r2p of designing, testing, and dissemination of best practice interventions to control for exposure to organic dusts in a vulnerable population this project will further address goals 2.4, 3.1, 3.2, and 5.2.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
Research Project--Cooperative Agreements (U01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZOH1-JFK (50))
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Dearwent, Steve
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Colorado State University-Fort Collins
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Veterinary Medicine
Fort Collins
United States
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