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The Incidence of Green Tobacco Sickness Among Latino Farmworkers

Arcury, Thomas A. PhD; Quandt, Sara A. PhD; Preisser, John S. PhD; Norton, Deborah MD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: July 2001 - Volume 43 - Issue 7 - p 601-609
Original Articles

We estimated the prevalence and incidence density (ID) and the risk factors of green tobacco sickness among minority farmworkers in North Carolina. Using a prospective surveillance design, 182 farmworkers were interviewed up to 5 times at biweekly intervals in 1999. The green tobacco sickness prevalence was 24.2%, whereas the ID was 1.88 days per 100 days worked. Greater work experience (5+ years, ID = 0.87; first year ID = 2.41) and tobacco use (ID of 1.18 vs 2.39) were negatively associated with green tobacco sickness. Task (eg, priming ID, 4.04; topping ID, 1.86; barning ID, 0.62) and working in wet clothing (25% of workdays ID, 2.97; fewer than 25% of workdays ID, 1.29) had the largest effect. More effort must be directed toward preventing this occupational illness that affects workers who have little control over workplace safety.

From the Department of Family and Community Medicine (Dr Arcury) and the Department of Pubic Health Sciences (Dr Quandt), Wake Forest University School of Medicine; the Department of Biostatistics, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Dr Preisser); and Wake County Human Services, Women’s Health Clinic, and the North Carolina Farmworker Health Program (Dr Norton).

Address correspondence to: Thomas A. Arcury, PhD, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1084; e-mail

Copyright © by American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.