Health of greenspace workers: Morbidity and mortality data from the AGRICAN cohort

Environ Res. 2022 Sep;212(Pt C):113375. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2022.113375. Epub 2022 May 6.


Introduction: Knowledge on the health of greenspace workers is scarce, even though they are exposed to many occupational hazards. The aim of this study was to analyze mortality by cause, prevalence of some non-cancer diseases, and incidence of the main cancers among greenspace workers.

Methods: A sub-cohort of greenspace workers was formed within the AGRICAN cohort. Demographic information, health characteristics and self-reported diseases at enrollment were described separately in terms of frequencies (%), median and Interquartile Range (IQR) for greenspace workers, farmers, and other non-agricultural workers. Causes of death and cancer incidence were identified through linkage with cancer registries from enrollment (2005-2007) to 2015. Hazard ratio (HR) and 95% Confidence Intervals [95% CI] were estimated using Cox proportional hazard regression with age as the underlying timescale.

Results: The sub-cohort included 6247 greenspace workers who were higher proportion men, younger and more frequently smokers than farmers and non-agricultural workers. Male and female greenspace workers reported more history of allergic diseases; and males, more history of depression. Compared to other workers male greenspace workers showed a non-significant higher mortality from ischemic cardiological diseases (HR = 1.14 [0.81-1.60]). Incidence was higher in male greenspace workers than farmers for overall cancer (HR = 1.15 [1.04-1.27]), cancer of the prostate (HR = 1.21 [1.02-1.44]), thyroid (HR = 2.84 [1.26-6.41]), testis (HR = 3.98 [1.50-10.58]) and skin melanoma (HR = 2.15 [1.33-3.47]). Non-significant increased risks were also found for sarcomas, larynx and breast. In women, risk of breast cancer was higher in greenspace workers than in farmers (HR = 1.71 [1.17-2.50]).

Conclusions: Whereas greenspace workers have often been included with other pesticide applicators in epidemiological studies, our analyses highlighted the differences between these two populations. They demonstrate the need to study them separately and to investigate more thoroughly the role of specific occupational exposures such as pesticides as well as the effect on women.

Keywords: Cancer; Greenspace workers; Mortality; Non-agricultural workers; Occupational epidemiology; Pesticides.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms*
  • Farmers
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Parks, Recreational
  • Pesticides*


  • Pesticides