Working in horse barns can cause respiratory problems

A study, published in the journal Occupational Medicine, polled more than 80 New England horse barn workers and found that 50% of individuals working in barns complained of coughing, wheezing, or other ailments in the last year, compared to just 15% in a control group of 74. Moreover, increased exposure to barns yielded higher rates of self-reported respiratory symptoms.

According to Professor Melissa Mazan at the Cummings School of Vetinary Medicine at Tuft’s University and the study's lead author, lower respiratory illness, attributed to the amount of dust in barns, is common in horses. The researchers wanted to see whether this poor air quality also affects horse owners, and it appears that it might.
Although further study is necessary to determine the causes of respiratory distress the results are striking -- and may be similar among pig, dairy and chicken farmers, who work in environments similarly high in organic dust. A 2001 study of European animal farmers found similar results.

For a fuller report


Click here for more miscellaneous respiratory research

First Published November 2009

top of page