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Acute Pulmonary Function Change Associated With Work on Large Dairies in California

Eastman, Chelsea PhD, MPH; Schenker, Marc B. MD, MPH; Mitchell, Diane C. PhD; Tancredi, Daniel J. PhD; Bennett, Deborah H. PhD; Mitloehner, Frank M. PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: January 2013 - Volume 55 - Issue 1 - p 74–79
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e318270d6e4
Original Articles

Objective: To study whether dairy workers in California have lower baseline and greater cross-shift decrements in lung function than control employees.

Methods: A cross-sectional study of 210 dairy and 47 control workers who completed questionnaires and spirometry before and after the work shift.

Results: Dairy work was associated with mean baseline differences of −0.132 L (P = 0.07) and −0.131 L (P = 0.13) in forced expiratory volume in 1 second and forced vital capacity, respectively, compared with control employees, adjusting for age, height, smoking status, and days back at work since last day off. Dairy work was associated with a mean cross-shift difference of −65.2 mL (P = 0.02) and −103.1 mL (P < 0.01) in forced expiratory volume in 1 second and forced vital capacity, respectively, adjusting for smoking status and work-shift time.

Conclusions: Dairy work in California was associated with mild acute airway obstruction. The unclear long-term effect of dairy work in California merits further investigation.

From the Departments of Public Health Sciences (Drs Eastman, Schenker, Mitchell, and Bennett), Pediatrics (Dr Tancredi), and Animal Science (Dr Mitloehner), University of California, Davis; and Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL) (Dr Eastman), Barcelona, Spain.

Address correspondence to: Marc B. Schenker, MD, MPH, Rm 138 MS1-C, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of California, Davis, CA 95616 (

Support for this research was provided by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health grant OH00770-07 and the University of California Toxic Substances Research and Teaching Program through the Atmospheric Aerosols and Health Lead Campus Program (

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Copyright © 2013 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine