Exposure to Airborne PM2.5, PM10, and Other Particles in Rural Georgia Farming Operations

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Background and Objectives: Agricultural workers including farm workers could be at increased risk of occupational respiratory diseases. The role of airborne organic dust particles, PM2.5, and PM10, were previously reported to be associated with development of respiratory allergies and asthma among agricultural workers. The purpose of this study was assessing exposure levels of organic dust particles, PM2.5, and PM10 in several rural Georgia farming operations.

Methods: Airborne particles including PM2.5 and PM10 were monitored using a 6-channel (0.3, 0.5, 1.0, 2.5, 5.0 and 10 µm) particle counter with graphical interface which can stores up to 5000 sample records on micro SD card. We have collected 10 air samples from different farming operations in rural Georgia, which include: (a) composting activities; (b) pruning, picking, and spraying activities in citrus farms; (c) poultry farms.

Results: Overall, the concentration of airborne particles of different sizes ranged as follows: 0.3 µm: 10(5) – 10(7) particles/m(3), 0.5 µm: 10(5) – 10(6) particles/m(3), 1.0 µm: 10(4) – 10(5) particles/m(3), 2.5 µm: 10(2) – 10(4) particles/m(3), 5.0 µm: – 10(4) particles/m(3), 5.0 µm: – 10(4) particles/m(3), and 10.0 µm: – 10(3) particles/m(3). A lot of visible dust were observed during some activities; these were most likely of >10 µm size and therefore not detected by the particle monitor.

Conclusions: Agricultural workers in selected rural Georgia farming operations are exposed to elevated levels of PM2.5 and organic dust during their common farming activities. Concentrations of submicron particles were significantly higher than course particles.


American Public Health Association Annual Meeting (APHA)


Atlanta, GA