Greenhouse growers run greater risk of developing lung disease

As growers are among those people who come in regular contact with harmful agents, they have a higher risk of developing COPD, says Dutch researcher Kim de Jong based on her study at Universitair Medisch Centrum Groningen. She also identified a number of genetic variants in previously unfamiliar genes that affect the individual's susceptibility to COPD. These results show the importance of more research and better information about the dangers of toxic substances, gases and vapours, at home and at work.

De Jong made use of data from two long-term epidemiological studies in the health of the general population: Lifelines (165,000 participants) and Vlagtwedde-Vlaardingen (over 8,000 participants). The researcher found evidence that exposure to cigarette smoke or toxic fumes at work relates to poor lung function and the incidence of COPD.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), also known as chronic obstructive lung disease (COLD), and chronic obstructive airway disease (COAD), among others, is a type of obstructive lung disease characterized by chronically poor airflow. The affliction, which typically worsens over time, is likely caused by an excessive immune response of the body to harmful substances such as tobacco smoke, gases and, as it turns out, crop protection agents.

Certain types of crop protection now appear to have a place among the ranks of harmful influences. De Jong and her colleagues found that occupational exposure to agents resulted in the strongest, fastest and most consistent deterioration of lung function. Further research should clarify whether people living in the vicinity of farms and agricultural activity are also at risk.

Source: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

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