The California Agricultural Workers Health Survey

J Agric Saf Health. 2008 Apr;14(2):135-46. doi: 10.13031/2013.24347.


The California Agricultural Workers Health Survey was a statewide cross-sectional household survey of 970 hired farm laborers. Randomly selected participants residing in randomly selected dwellings were recruited in seven communities representing all of the state's agricultural regions. Participants were interviewed in their preferred language by professional staff. The response rate was 83%. The comprehensive interview included self-reported health conditions, doctor-reported health conditions, work history, workplace health conditions, field sanitation, and work-related injuries. A farm workplace injury during the twelve-month period prior to the interview was reported by 6% of male workers (95% CI: 4% - 8%) and 2% of female workers (95% CI: 1% - 3%). Significant numbers of both male (41%) and female (40%) workers reported persistent pain (every day for more than one week) in the back, neck, knees, shoulders, hands, feet, or multiple body parts. The number of body parts in which female workers reported persistent pain correlated with increased years of U.S. hired farm work (Spearman r = 0.24, p < 0.01). Direct contact with pesticides from being sprayed or drifted upon among both male and female workers was associated with multiple workplace health conditions such as irritated, itchy, or water eyes (male: OR 2.9, 95% CI: 1.6 - 5.0; female: OR 13.8, 95% CI: 4.3 - 44.7). Persistent stomach aches among male and female participants was associated with being required to taste unwashed grapes for sweetness while picking (male: OR 4.6, 95% CI: 2.1 - 9.9; female: OR 5.8, 95% CI: 2.6 - 12.6).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Agriculture
  • California / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Hygiene
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Mexico / ethnology
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Occupational Health*
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Pesticides / adverse effects*
  • Transients and Migrants / statistics & numerical data*
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology


  • Pesticides