The Prevalence of Self-Reported Respiratory Symptoms and Related Diseases in Different Agricultural Sectors: Findings from a Cross-Sectional Survey in Finland

  • Eetu N. SuominenEmail author
  • Tuula M. Putus
Part of the Studies in Systems, Decision and Control book series (SSDC, volume 277)


Respiratory diseases and symptoms are well-recognized occupational problems among farmers. Our objective was to compare the current prevalence and occurrence trends of respiratory symptoms and disorders between different Finnish agricultural sectors and to, more specifically, determine the risk factors leading to the development of the symptoms. A questionnaire was e-mailed randomly to 10,000 members of The Farmers’ Social Insurance Institution in Finland. The response rate was 25.1%. Farmers working with animals reported more respiratory symptoms than farmers working in haying, crop farming or forestry. Organic dust exposure was associated significantly with a higher prevalence of wheezing, asthma, allergic rhinitis and allergic alveolitis. Chronic bronchitis was associated with exposure to cattle, animal excrement, organic dust and fodder exposure. The prevalence of asthma was equal compared to the general population. The sectors of farming associated with an elevated prevalence of respiratory symptoms in Finland include dairy, beef and pig farming. The trend in the increase of asthma among farmers seems to follow the development of asthma in the general population. These results remind that respiratory protection should be considered especially during exposure to agricultural organic dusts and microbes.


Agriculture Occupational exposure Respiratory illness 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Occupational and Environmental HealthUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland

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