Respiratory function in greenhouse workers

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 1993;64(7):521-6. doi: 10.1007/BF00381102.


Respiratory findings were studied in a group of 135 female and 32 male workers employed in greenhouses. In addition 51 women and 30 men were studied as a control group. Exposed women had significantly higher prevalences of chronic cough, dyspnea, chest tightness, and rhinitis (P < 0.01) than the controls. Among the men, only rhinitis was more prevalent in greenhouse workers (P < 0.01) than in controls. Smokers had higher prevalences of all chronic respiratory symptoms than nonsmokers, but the differences were statistically significant only for chronic cough and rhinitis in women and for chronic phlegm in men. There was a high prevalence of acute symptoms during work. A large number of greenhouse workers complained of skin reactions to plants and pesticides (women: 37.8%; men: 34.4%). Workers had significantly lower mean ventilatory capacity measurements (except in the case of forced vital capacity) when compared to standard predicted values. Smokers and nonsmokers had similar values of lung function expressed as percentages of the predicted values. Greenhouse workers exposed for more than 10 years had a significantly lower FEF25, measured as a percentage of the predicted value, than workers exposed for less than 10 years. Our data indicate that occupational exposure to greenhouses may be associated with the development of acute and chronic respiratory symptoms and impairment of ventilatory capacity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Dermatitis, Occupational / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Plants*
  • Prevalence
  • Respiratory Mechanics
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / physiopathology*