Proportionate mortality among US migrant and seasonal farmworkers in twenty-four states

Am J Ind Med. 2001 Nov;40(5):604-11. doi: 10.1002/ajim.1126.


Background: US migrant and seasonal farmworkers may be exposed to potentially carcinogenic pesticides and other agents. Little epidemiologic research has been conducted on this population.

Methods: We examined the proportionate mortality of 26,148 subjects (14,631 white men (WM), 7,299 nonwhite men (NM), 1,081 white women (WW), and 3,137 nonwhite women (NW)) who were identified as farmworkers on death certificates from 24 US states during 1984-1993.

Results: Farmworkers had significantly elevated proportionate mortality from injuries, tuberculosis, mental disorders, cerebrovascular disease, respiratory diseases, ulcers, hypertension (NW), and cirrhosis (NW). There was significantly reduced mortality from infectious diseases (other than tuberculosis), endocrine disorders, nervous system diseases, pneumoconioses, arteriosclerotic heart disease (WM), and all cancers combined. Proportionate cancer mortality analyses found excess cancers of the buccal cavity, larynx, esophagus, stomach, skin (NW), and cervix, and deficits for cancers of the colon, breast, kidney, pancreas (NW), and lymphohematopoietic system.

Conclusions: The excess deaths from injuries, respiratory disease, and stomach cancer, and the deficits of colon cancer and arteriosclerotic heart disease among farmworkers, are consistent with typical mortality patterns previously observed among farm owner/operators. The excess buccal, laryngeal, esophageal, and cervical cancers, and the deficits of breast cancer and lymphohematopoietic cancers have not generally been observed in studies of farm owner/operators.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cause of Death*
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Transients and Migrants / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology