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    Respiratory Health

    Last updated on September 28th, 2022 at 01:45 pm

    Respiratory Health Resources

    Most of us take for granted that our lungs are going to do their job. We can get out of bed in the morning and take those first deep breaths without thinking. But it really is a gift. Protecting your lungs from farm work-related exposures is essential to your long-term health and your ability to keep doing the work you love.

    Once you recognize the hazards, your next step is to either modify the job to remove them or to wear the correct personal protective equipment. Identify locations where you might breathe in grain dust or have exposure to aerosol in a confined space. Aerosol is the term for solid particles or liquid droplets in the air; aerosol might look invisible, or like a gas, mist, or fog.

    Once you start to recognize the hazards, your next step is to either modify the job or find the right personal protective equipment. Since many farm jobs require contact with respiratory hazards, personal protective equipment is the remaining option.

    When choosing respiratory protection, there are two main points to remember:

    1. Make sure the respirator or face mask is NIOSH approved.
    2. Make sure respiratory protection matches the hazard/ is correct for the job.

    For more guidance on selecting the right equipment, check out the AgriSafe Decision Guide and the AgriSafe Rainbow Guide.

    Respiratory Health Resources

    Fact Sheets and Guides

    Podcast Episodes



    Webinar TitleSummaryLink
    Agricultural Organic Dust Exposure and COVID-19 Infection

    By the end of 2021, COVID-19 has caused over 51 million infections and 805,000 deaths in the US. Pre-existing lung disease, such as COPD, has been linked to more severe COVID-19 symptoms and poor outcomes. Prior research has shown that agricultural workers, especially those working in livestock production, have an increased risk for inflammatory lung disease because of exposure to inhaled organic dust. In this webinar presentation, Dr. Wyatt will share his research on swine production workers and explore their risk for COVID-19 infection and severe disease due to existing dust-induced lung inflammation.

    Anhydrous Ammonia Safety for Farmworkers (February 24, 2022)

    Anhydrous ammonia (NH3) is an effective nitrogen crop fertilizer used throughout the Midwest and beyond.  Anhydrous ammonia is potentially dangerous, as it seeks water from the nearest source, which may be the human body – especially the eyes, lungs, and skin because of their high moisture content.  Few problems occur when anhydrous ammonia is handled properly and applied as intended.  However, it is important for all individuals working with this type of fertilizer to understand the potential health risks, necessary safety precautions, and proper response in the event of an exposure. Focus of the training is on anhydrous ammonia safety during transport and application, including the anatomy of the nurse tank and toolbar, safety inspection processes, hitching and unhitching safety, personal protective equipment (PPE), rural roadway safety, and first aid/emergency procedures.  Hazard communication and emergency action plans will also be addressed.

    Confined Space – Grain Bin Entry

    The Confined Space Grain Safety program is intended for workers and managers in agriculture. This includes Coop’s, farm operators, employees, and agriculture business owners. The major focus of the program is on safety in confined space work areas.

    Respiratory Fit Testing in Agricultural Communities (June 24, 2020)

    Respiratory PPE fit testing helps assure the best protection against dangerous airborne particles. Agricultural workers face a myriad of challenges in obtaining a proper fit test and who can provide this service. Additionally, there are gray areas of misunderstanding about the fit testing mandates in certain agricultural populations. 

    Respiratory Protection Issues in Agriculture – What to Wear & Does It Fit?

    The business of agriculture presents a myriad of hazards, including exposures to dusts, molds, pesticides and other chemicals, gases, as well as welding fumes and particles. Deciding what protection to use to prevent acute and chronic respiratory diseases is confusing. In addition, just finding the right protective gear can be a challenge. This webinar will address those issues and provide information on the importance of fit testing and fit (seal) checks.

    Respiratory Protection Program Adapted to Grain Handling Operations

    The OSHA respiratory standard requires a written respiratory protection program for situations in which permissible exposure levels (PELs) of airborne contaminants could be exceeded or when the employer requires use of respirators by workers. This training will assist agriculture-based employers who require respirator use to comply with the OSHA respiratory protection program standard. Training includes written worksite specific procedures, program evaluation, selection of an appropriate respirator approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), training, fit testing, inspection, cleaning, maintenance, and storage, medical evaluation, work area surveillance and air quality standards.

    Page updated: July 2021

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