Human health effects of dust exposure in animal confinement buildings

J Agric Saf Health. 2000 Nov;6(4):283-8. doi: 10.13031/2013.1911.


Work in swine and poultry units is associated with exposure to significant levels of organic dust and endotoxins with the highest concentrations found in poultry houses, whereas values found in dairy and in cattle farming are much lower. Corresponding to this is an excess of work-related respiratory symptoms in swine farmers. A dose-response relationship exists between symptoms and number of working hours. Longitudinal studies have demonstrated an accelerated decline of lung function in swine farmers large enough to cause clinically significant disease in some farmers. Because of the large number of people needed in swine farming and the long working hours, swine farming has emerged as the major respiratory problem in farming. Experimental studies indicate that exposure has to be lowered substantially to avoid acute effects and longitudinal studies demonstrate that loss of lung function occurs in non-smoking swine farmers without respiratory symptoms and that accelerated decline in lung function occurs below endotoxin concentrations in dust (100 ng/m3) proposed as a safe threshold.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / etiology*
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / adverse effects*
  • Animal Husbandry*
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Dust / adverse effects*
  • Housing, Animal
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / etiology*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Poultry
  • Swine


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Dust