196373 Farmer Exposure to Organic Solvents During the Maintenance and Repair of Farm Machinery: A Pilot Study

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Terry L. Bunn, PhD , College of Public Health, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Youcheng Liu, MD, ScD , Department of Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Kiyoung Lee, ScD , Graduate School of Public Health and Institute of Health and Environment, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea
Medearis A. Robertson, BS , College of Public Health, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Lei Yu, PhD , College of Public Health, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Background: The maintenance and repair of farm machinery is a common farming activity and exposure through the skin route to organic solvents/lubricants has not been well documented. A pilot study was conducted to characterize solvent use patterns and evaluate skin exposure to organic solvents.

Methods: A survey questionnaire was administered to 31 farmers in Kentucky. Information on the type of organic solvents and products used was collected. Skin exposure assessment using a charcoal sampling patch was conducted on 10 farms while farmers performed farm machinery maintenance/repair tasks. Benzene, toluene, xylene and n-hexane were analyzed by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry.

Results: Twelve surveyed farmers performed maintenance/repair activities >5 times per month. All four organic solvents were identified from skin patch samples with toluene (<0.5-36,000 g/patch) and xylene (15-5,700 g/patch) at significantly higher levels. Twenty-six farmers used personal protective equipment less than fifty percent of their time repairing/maintaining farm machinery.

Conclusions: Farmers routinely used solvent products for farm machinery maintenance/repair. Skin exposure to organic solvents is common. Further studies to characterize and evaluate exposure determinants in larger samples of farmers are needed.

Learning Objectives:
The objectives were to 1) identify and characterize farm machinery maintenance and repair tasks through an administered survey; 2) assess farmer exposure to organic solvents during these tasks using a survey questionnaire; 3) quantify dermal exposure to various organic solvents and evaluate exposure factors; and 4) determine the use of PPE and the perceived risk of exposure and related health outcomes.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted the research and wrote the manuscript
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.