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Report, 2009

Teknik, system och hälsa för personer som arbetar med djur

Nimmermark, Sven


Air in animal houses contains high concentrations of organic dust, gases, endotoxins, and micro-organisms. Thus, work in animal houses can result in a number of heath related issues. Systems used in the production as well as management and used techniques affect the work environment in animal production and should followingly be as good as possible from a work perspective. Data was collected by the help of a questionnaires sent to 1000 farmers working with animals, and the answers were analyzed with the aim of finding correlations between used techniques, production systems, and experienced work environment and health. The response rate of the questionnaire was 75 %. Analyses were made by the help of the statistic software package Minitab, and descriptive statistics, ?2 analysis and logistic regressions were used. Among several factors in the environment, the dust was considered to be the most annoying factor. Two third of those answering considered the dust to be a little, rather much or much annoying. Persons working with pigs and/or poultry found dust to be more annoying than persons working with cattle. Of persons working with poultry, 6 % considered the dust to be much annoying. Itching irritated eyes were reported more frequent among those working with pigs and poultry compared to those working with dairy cows or other types of cattle. Among persons working with poultry, the7 day prevalence of itching irritated eyes was 8 %. Persons exercising regularly experienced less fatigue, less irritation, and less mood changes compared to those not exercising regularly. Smokers experienced more headaches, more nose irritations, and more wheezing when breathing compared to those not smoking. Persons who had noted that they have asthma experienced compared to the others more fatigue, more problems with having a heavy head, nausea, dizziness, nose irritation, cough with and without phlegm, hoarseness, chest tightness, sleeping difficulties and heart beat. Many hours of work in barns was a factor increasing the frequency of many experienced health problems. Generally, persons older than 55 years were less annoyed with the air quality than persons younger than 55 years. A possible reason for that can be “Healthy workers effect”, i.e. that those experiencing health problems in the environment find other jobs. However, considering annoyance to odour, persons older than 55 years were more annoyed than those younger than 55 years. An explanation can be sensitization from exposure during a long time. A problem, when analyzing how different production systems and different techniques influences frequencies of experienced health problems, is that different systems and different techniques often are present in barns at the same farm. In the evaluation, a certain technique was considered to be used if it was used in one barn at the farm. If the same systems had been used in all barns at a specific farm, probably more significant differences between used techniques would have been found. Dry cough (cough without phlegm) was experienced significantly more often among those working with pigs compared to among those working with other animal species. This has also been found in other studies. Also other health problems related to the respiratory organs, such as irritation in the nose, throat (hoarseness, dry throat) and breathing difficulties seem to be related to work with pigs. Persons working with pigs in systems with wet feeding experienced less problems with cough without phlegm and wheezing compared to those 10 working with pigs in other systems. People working with pigs in systems where meal feed was used experienced hoarseness and chest tightness less frequent than those working in other systems where pellets, crushed pellets or other feed types were used. Itching eyes were experienced more frequent by persons working with laying hens than by persons working with other animals. Also breathing difficulties seem to be related to work with laying hens. A high concentration of dust in combination with high ammonia concentrations is a plausible cause of these problems. A number of unhealthy compounds are created in wet litter, and results from the study suggest that a wet litter in houses for laying hens increases the frequency of eye irritations and also of dry cough among persons working with laying hens. The air quality for persons working with dairy cows and cattle seems to be healthier than the air quality in pig and poultry houses. The results of the study suggest that aching muscles is a greater problem for persons working with dairy cows than for persons working with pigs or hens. However, problems with the stomage/diarrhoea were experienced more frequently by persons working with dairy cows compared to by persons working with other animals. A reason for this might be bacteria present in barns for dairy cows. Manual handling of the course feed for the cows can cause problems with cough with and without phlegm, and also with dry, itching skin in the hair bottom. Manual handling of the course feed leads to exposure to dust particles of various size and type. Further studies of correlations between used technology, air environment and other factors in the work environment need to be done in order to find out how different techniques affect the persons working with the animals. Since the air quality affects humans as well as animals, improvements will lead to improved heath in workers as well as in animals


Djurhållning; Arbetsmiljö; Luftkvalitet

Published in

Landskap, trädgård, jordbruk : rapportserie
2009, number: 2009:13
ISBN: 978-91-86373-01-6
Publisher: Fakulteten för landskapsplanering, trädgårds- och jordbruksvetenskap, Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet

Authors' information

Nimmermark, Sven
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Rural Buildings and Animal Husbandry [LBT]

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
Animal and Dairy Science
Veterinary Science

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