Data from attendees of the annual World Pork Expo spanning the five-year period 1991-1995 were analyzed to determine the relationships between pork production and worker health. Self-reported or subjective health problems suggest that pork production is associated with nagging types of chronic problems for the producer and the family. Farmers were significantly more likely than non-farmers to report chronic health problems of cough/phlegm and flu-type symptoms. Pig farmers were significantly more likely than other farmers to report cough/phlegm, sinus problems, sore throat, and family being affected. Confinement farmers were more likely to report or observe effects and family member effects than were other pig farmers. Objective lung measurements did not show any significant differences in lung capacity. The lack of objective evidence is not compelling enough to conclude that the self-reported health effects do not exist, because the data's time frame may not be sufficient to reveal permanent respiratory damage. Farmers were less likely to report hearing problems than were non-farmers. Pig farmers and confinement farmers were no different in this area than other farmers. However, hearing measurements showed that farmers had significantly impaired (reduced) hearing in both ears as compared to nonfarmers. Hearing problems for confinement farmers and other pig farmers were not significantly different from other farmers. Farmers also had significantly lower hand strength than non-farmers, and pig farmers had less hand strength than other farmers. Pig farmers may be more susceptible to hand injury or repetitive motion disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
Iowa State University
Hurley, Terrance M.; Orazem, Peter F.; and Kliebenstein, James B., "Worker Health Issues in Pork Production" (1997). Swine Research Report, 1996. 27.