Feedback on Measured Dust Concentrations Reduces Exposure Levels Among Farmers

Ioannis Basinas, Torben Sigsgaard, Jakob Hjort Bønløkke, Nils Testrup Andersen, Øyvind Omland, Hans Kromhout, Vivi Schlünssen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: The high burden of exposure to organic dust among livestock farmers warrants the establishment of effective preventive and exposure control strategies for these workers. The number of intervention studies exploring the effectiveness of exposure reduction strategies through the use of objective measurements has been limited.

OBJECTIVE: To examine whether dust exposure can be reduced by providing feedback to the farmers concerning measurements of the exposure to dust in their farm.

METHODS: The personal dust levels of farmers in 54 pig and 26 dairy cattle farms were evaluated in two measurement series performed approximately 6 months apart. Detailed information on work tasks and farm characteristics during the measurements were registered. Participating farms were randomized a priori to a control (n = 40) and an intervention group (n = 40). Shortly after the first visit, owners of intervention farms only received a letter with information on the measured dust concentrations in the farm together with some general advises on exposure reduction strategies (e.g. use of respirators during certain tasks). Relationships between measured dust concentrations and intervention status were quantified by means of linear mixed effect analysis with farm and worker id as random effects. Season, type of farming, and work tasks were treated as fixed effects. Changes in exposure over time were explored primarily at a farm level in models combined, as well as separate for pig and cattle farmers.

RESULTS: After adjustment for fixed effects, an overall reduction of 23% in personal dust exposures was estimated as a result of the intervention (P = 0.02). Exposure reductions attributable to the intervention were similar across pig and cattle farmers, but statistically significant only for pig farmers. Intervention effects among pig farmers did not depend on the individuals' information status; but among cattle farmers a significant 48% reduction in exposure was found only among individuals that reported to have been informed. No systematic differences in changes over time considering the use of respiratory protection between the intervention and control groups were observed.

CONCLUSION: The results of the present study suggest reductions between 20 and 30% in personal exposure to inhalable dust to be feasible through simple information provided to the farm owners regarding actual levels of exposure together with instructions on basic measures of prevention. The exact reasons for these effects are unclear, but likely they involve changes in behavior and working practices among intervention farmers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)812-24
Number of pages13
JournalThe Annals of occupational hygiene
Issue number7
Early online date31 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational/analysis
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Dust/analysis
  • Environmental Monitoring/methods
  • Farmers/education
  • Feedback
  • Humans
  • Inhalation Exposure/analysis
  • Occupational Exposure/analysis
  • Random Allocation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Swine


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