Purpose of review
A prevalence of asthma over 5% has been reported in flower farmers,and work inside greenhouses has emerged as an additional risk factor. Workplace determinants behind this high prevalence has been examined, and a prevalence of sensitization to workplace allergens over 30% has been reported being pollens, moulds, and Tetranychus urticae allergens the main sensitizers. Bronchial challenge tests in the workplace have demonstrated occupational asthma in more than 20% of the sensitized greenhouse growers.
Air contamination inside greenhouses is mainly related to moulds, and is facilitated by the high indoor temperature and humidity. Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Alternaria and a wide range of flower pollens are able to sensitize the greenhouse worker and cause occupational asthma. Tetranychus urticae have allergens shared with other mites, but the low prevalence of cross-sensitization between them confirm that Tetranychus urticae contains species-specific allergens thay may cause respiratory symptoms. Additionally, working inside greenhouses has been related to an increase in the prevalence of chronic bronchitis in nonsmokers.
The cultivation of greenhouse crops may cause occupational asthma through sensitization to workplace pollens, moulds, and Tetranychus urticae allergens. In greenhouse flower growers, skin testing identifies sensitization to these allergens in one third of the growers, and more than one fifh of the sensitized workers will develop occupational asthma. Greenhouse work has also been related to chronic bronchitis in nonsmokers, suggesting a causal effect of greenhouse air contaminants on this disease as well.