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Chemicals, climate top list of stressors for Midwestern farmers, University of Iowa study shows

More than one-third of farmers had questions in a recent UI survey as to health outcomes resulting from farming exposure
More than one-third of farmers had questions in a recent UI survey as to health outcomes resulting from farming exposures, ranging from respiratory health and hearing loss to depression, pain and acute illness. (Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Chemical safety, equipment use, finance and weather all stood out as top stressors among Midwestern farmers who responded to a recent University of Iowa survey.

Researchers with the university’s College of Public Health analyzed responses from 540 Midwestern farmers — in Iowa as well as Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Ohio — whom they asked to share perspectives regarding hazards and stressors associated with their work.

Nearly half the respondents identified farm chemicals as a key concern, and requested information on how to handle, store and use the chemicals safety, the researchers said.

More than one-third of farmers had questions as to health outcomes resulting from farming exposures, ranging from respiratory health and hearing loss to depression, pain and acute illness.

Other shared concerns related to equipment entanglement hazards and how old equipment could be maintained in safe operating condition.

Asked to identify stress-causing factors on the farm, 45 percent of respondents cited finances, including market and commodity prices.

Climate and weather next was identified by 22 percent of farmers, while workload and labor concerns followed, identified by 16 percent of respondents.

The study recently was published in the Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health.

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In a release on the findings, the Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health highlighted its resources — available at its website, at gpcah.public-health.uiowa.edu — for helping farmers address their concerns and reduce stressors.

Comments: (319) 398-8366; thomas.friestad@thegazette.com

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