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Poultry Processing Work and Respiratory Health of Latino Men and Women in North Carolina

Mirabelli, Maria C. PhD, MPH; Chatterjee, Arjun B. MD, MS; Arcury, Thomas A. PhD; Mora, Dana C. MPH; Blocker, Jill N. MS; Grzywacz, Joseph G. PhD; Chen, Haiying PhD; Marín, Antonio J. MA; Schulz, Mark R. PhD; Quandt, Sara A. PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: February 2012 - Volume 54 - Issue 2 - p 177–183
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31823d86f2
Original Articles

Objective: To evaluate associations between poultry processing work and respiratory health among working Latino men and women in North Carolina.

Methods: Between May 2009 and November 2010, 402 poultry processing workers and 339 workers in a comparison population completed interviewer-administered questionnaires. Of these participants, 279 poultry processing workers and 222 workers in the comparison population also completed spirometry testing to provide measurements of forced expiratory volume in 1 second and forced vital capacity.

Results: Nine percent of poultry processing workers and 10% of workers in the comparison population reported current asthma. Relative to the comparison population, adjusted mean forced expiratory volume in 1 second and forced vital capacity were lower in the poultry processing population, particularly among men who reported sanitation job activities.

Conclusions: Despite the low prevalence of respiratory symptoms reported, poultry processing work may affect lung function.

From the Departments of Epidemiology and Prevention (Drs Mirabelli and Quandt, Ms Mora) and Biostatistical Sciences (Ms Blocker, Dr Chen), Division of Public Health Sciences; Center for Worker Health (Drs Mirabelli, Chatterjee, Arcury, Grzywacz, Chen, and Quandt); Department of Internal Medicine, Section on Pulmonary, Critical Care, Allergy, and Immunologic Diseases (Dr Chatterjee); and Department of Family and Community Medicine (Drs Arcury and Grzywacz and Mr Marín), Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC; and Department of Public Health Education (Dr Schulz), University of North Carolina Greensboro, Greensboro, NC.

Address correspondence to: Maria C. Mirabelli, PhD, MPH, Department of Epidemiology and Prevention, Division of Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157 E-mail:

This research was funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Grant No. R01OH009251).

Copyright © 2012 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine