Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in Never-Smoking Dairy Farmers

Saso Stoleski*, Jordan Minov, Jovanka Karadzinska-Bislimovska , Dragan Mijakoski
Institute for Occupational Health of R. Macedonia - Skopje, WHO Collaborating Center, GA2LEN Collaborating Center, R. Macedonia

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© Stoleski et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Center for Respiratory Functional Diagnostics, Institute for Occupational Health, WHO Collaborating Center and GA2LEN Collaborating Center, II Makedonska Brigada 43, 1000 Skopje, R. Macedonia; Tel: +389 71 314 435; Fax: +389 2 2621 428; E-mail:


Introduction :

Work-related chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) represents a considerable part of the disease burden globally.

Objective :

To assess the COPD prevalence and characteristics in never-smoking dairy farmers.

Materials and Methodology :

We have conducted a cross-sectional study with 75 male dairy farmers aged 26 to 59 years, and compared them with equivalent number of male office workers similar by age, and duration of employment. Data on chronic respiratory symptoms, job history and daily activities were obtained by questionnaire. Lung functional testing of the examined subjects included baseline spirometry, and bronchodilator reversibility measurement.

Results :

Dairy farmers showed higher prevalence of overall respiratory symptoms, but significant difference was noticed for cough, phlegm, and dyspnea. Dairy farmers had more prevalent work-related respiratory symptoms, being significant for overall symptoms, cough, and phlegm. The mean baseline values of spirometric parameters were lower in dairy farmers, but significance was reported for FEV1/FVC%, MEF50, MEF75, and MEF25-75. Dairy farmers had significantly higher COPD prevalence than office controls (10.7% vs 2.7%, P = 0,049). Dairy farmers and office controls showed significant association between COPD and age over 45 years. Dairy farmers had a significant association between COPD and employment duration of over 20 years (P = 0.023), but also between COPD and work-related chronic respiratory symptoms (P = 0.041).

Conclusion :

The study findings favor the cause-effect association between job exposure to respiratory hazards, and development of persistent airway obstruction among dairy farmers.

Keywords: Airflow limitation, bronchodilator testing, farming, job exposure, questionnaire, spirometry.