The health and safety of Iowans involved in agriculture is a priority for Iowa State University Extension specialists who will offer research and educational materials at the 2010 Farm Progress Show. The long-term Agricultural Health Study (AHS) that has more than 58,500 Iowa participants is the topic Betsy Buffington and Kristine Schaefer, Pest Management and the Environment program specialists, are including in their display at the Health and Safety Tent.
AHS, in its 16th year, investigates the effects of environmental, occupational, dietary and genetic factors on the health of the agricultural population. Iowa farmers, their spouses and commercial pesticide applicators enrolled in pesticide safety classes from 1993 to 1997 were invited to participate in the study; the study also includes 31,000 North Carolina farmer and spouse participants. The purpose of the study is to provide information that helps agricultural workers make informed decisions about their health and the health of their families.
Study participants are urged to stop by the exhibit at FPS
"We'd like study participants to stop by our Farm Progress Show display and add a push pin to our state map so we can thank them for continuing to take part in AHS," Schaefer says. "It is very important to the research for participants to continue providing information to the study regardless of whether they are still applying pesticides or what their health status is."
Ongoing participant information is crucial to understanding how agricultural exposures may affect health – and to know what can be done to help families enjoy good health, according to Schaefer, who covers the topic in ISU Extension pesticide applicator training sessions.
The 2009 Iowa Study Update includes information about women and lung health, 2,4-D and chlorpyrifos exposure, pesticide use and depression, understanding cancer findings, and applicators and hearing loss. Schaefer and Buffington will have the 2009 Iowa Update at the show display; it is also available at www.aghealth.org under the important findings from the study link.
Scientists studying a wide range of ag-related health topics
The study is conducted in Iowa by the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Iowa and in North Carolina by Battelle Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation. It is funded and directed by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Many scientists are studying a wide range of health topics as part of AHS, including the effects of exposure to pesticides. "One way to protect against exposure is the use of personal protective equipment," says Schaefer. "Properly fitting personal protective equipment is a topic we cover during pesticide applicator trainings; we'll be sharing some of that information with show attendees August 31, September 1 and September 2."
Tug-of-War in grain also delivers a unique safety message
The Progressive Agriculture Foundation is hosting an Iowa State Tug-of-War with Grain display at the Farm Progress Show this year. Iowans have been stepping up to the challenge of the display for 17 years – since it was first introduced during the fall of 1993, according to ISU Extension farm safety specialist Chuck Schwab. As farm safety specialist, Schwab establishes safety educational programs that can reduce the number of deaths and disabling injuries suffered by persons living or working on a farm. Among his most notable contributions has been reducing grain bin suffocations.
During the 2008 Farm Progress Show in Boone, approximately 1,660 people stepped up to the Tug-of-War with Grain and tested their strength against the pull equivalent to a 165-pound person buried shoulder deep in grain. No one was successful in pulling enough weight (625 pounds) to release the victim. In 2008, the top Farm Progress Show pull recorded for men was 288 pounds and 179 pounds for women.
"Grain is like quicksand," says Schwab. "And the more you struggle, the deeper you go, but few people understand how that force is produced." All tug-of-war participants leave the display with a better understanding of the dangers and a card explaining how to avoid grain suffocation hazards. They are more aware that grain handling entrapments can happen quickly; flowing grain can make a person helpless within five seconds. Schwab says the key is to avoid being trapped by following strict rules while handling, transporting and storing grain.