The Ag Center's interdisciplinary team of UC Davis researchers collaborates on studying challenging aspects of agriculture affecting health and safety. Currents areas of research and outreach include:
Effects of California agricultural particulate matter in a murine intranasal sensitization model of allergic airway inflammation
Principal Investigator: Kent Pinkerton, PhD - University of California, Davis
Using a murine intranasal sensitization model of allergic airway inflammation and PM collected from various agricultural, rural and urban sites in the Sacramento and San Joaquin regions of California, the goal of the proposed research is to enhance our knowledge of the relationship between agricultural PM, alone and relative to other PM sources and source mixtures, and adverse health effects; thereby, better approaches to managing exposure risks and regulating air quality will be established. A novel approach to collecting ambient, size-segregated PM will be employed to provide both single pollutant (e.g., single source) and multi-pollutant (e.g., source mixture) PM samples for subsequent toxicological studies.
Using large national datasets and econometrics in agricultural injury research
Principal Investigator:J. Paul Leigh, PhD - University of California, Davis
The overall goal is to demonstrate how large, reliable, national data sets, combined with econometric techniques, can be used to address significant questions facing agricultural stakeholders including health professionals, researchers, farmers, policy makers, unions and trade groups. These data sets are specifically designed to provide information on the safety and health of farm owners, their children, farm managers, contractors and workers.
Impacts of new caging laws in California on worker health and safety in layer hen facilities
Principal Investigator: Jerold Last, PhD - University of California, Davis
California voters passed Proposition 2, which requires egg-laying hens be confined only in ways that allow these animals to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs, and turn around freely. Project 3 proposes to use a before and after testing strategy to determine the impact of changes in animal housing on the workers in otherwise similar egg production facilities. We have put together a new research team with expertise in indoor air quality monitoring, whole animal toxicology, and human subjects research to perform field studies that examine the chemistry and toxicology of indoor air and the potential for allergic sensitization of workers in the egg production industry during the period of transition from conventional battery cages to Proposition 2–compliant animal housing. The new information generated by this anticipatory research will be disseminated to managers and workers in the egg production facilities to encourage the adoption of best occupational health and safety practices in this rapidly changing industry.
Rapid assays for human and environmental exposure assessment
Principal Investigators: Bruce Hammock, PhD and Shirley Gee, MS - University of California, Davis, CA
The translational goal of this project is to develop improved tools for the detection of pesticides in farmworkers and landscape workers, and apply these tools to determine exposure levels. Development of new immunoassays for pesticides used heavily in western states will be generated, particularly for the herbicides 2,4-dichlorophenoxybenzoic acid (2,4-D), glyphosate, and paraquat and the insecticides chlorantraniloprole and the class of pyrethroids.
Reducing the risk of heat-related illness in western agricultural workers
Principal Investigators: Marc B. Schenker, MD, MPH and Diane Mitchell, PhD - University of California, Davis
Missing from occupational studies on factors contributing to HRI are considerations of the metabolic heat load from working in diverse agricultural environments, and the socio-cultural factors affecting the mostly immigrant workers’ work practices/behaviors. Without thorough understanding of these aspects, effective strategies to reduce agricultural HRI are diminished. This multidisciplinary effort brings together investigators from medicine, epidemiology, public health, physiology, anthropology and community outreach/education who are uniquely positioned to address HRI in agricultural populations. Our goal is to obtain novel data on internal body temperature as it relates to crop type and geography, external heat and internal metabolic loading, including accounting for work type, personal factors, and obtain critical information on knowledge, work practices and social-cultural issues that impact a worker’s decisions with regard to HRI prevention.
Effects of Orchard Ladder Rung Spacing on Agricultural Workers
Principal Investigators:Fadi Fathallah, PhD and Victor Duraj, MS - University of California, Davis
The main goal of the proposed research is to reduce the number of falls from ladders in orchards, through an alternative ladder or set of ladders designed to better suit the anthropometry of specific worker populations. With a research design focused on optimum rung spacing, the improved orchard ladder is expected to reduce worker force exertions, fatigue, and self-reported pain, as well as a potential increase in worker stability during climbing activities or unexpected ladder movement or foot slippage.
2012 WCAHS FUNDED SEED GRANTS:
Smart Textiles Materials for Reduction of Heat Stress
Qazaleh Bahramain, GSR,
PI: Gan Sun, PhD - University of California, Davis
We will focus on the particular circumstance of summer weather in California and prepare some smart textile materials that can properly respond to the external and internal heats. The special clothing can reduce and improve heat stress but still meet all regular requirements as clothing materials for farm workers. Here two basic requirements for farm worker clothing are durability and low costs. Based on these, the ultimate goal of my research is to explore such ideal clothing materials that can significantly increase heat transport from inside clothing to outside and also reduce radiant heat and UV penetration through the clothing. The strategy of the research is to find the textile materials available in the market that can significantly improve air permeability, moisture transport, water repellence so as to increase thermal comfort. In addition, by using proper dyes and colorants that can to reduce UV and heat irradiation from the sun on the clothing, there will be additional reduction of heat imoact from external resources.
Improving Exposure Assessment Methods for Fumigant Pesticides: a Methyl Iodide Case Study
Kathleen Navarro, Graduate Student, PI John Balmes - University of California Berkeley
Strawberry industry is phasing out use of methyl bromide moving to methyl iodide. CDPR’s 2010 completed risk assessment of methyl iodide was found by their/CDPR’s Scientific Review Panel (SRP) to contain numerous inadequacies. This project will more accurately assess farm worker exposure to methyl iodide by 1.) determining inhalation rates for farmers performing specific tasks associated with its application. 2.) Determine exposure to methyl iodide in a single field when applied to adjacent fields.
Agriculture Dust Exposure and Smoking Related Disease
Principal Investigator: Ben Davis - UC Davis , Assistant Project Scientist, Center for Health & the Environent
Migrant farm workers are at risk for respiratory disease due to the numerous environmental factors that they are exposed to while farming, including agriculture dust. The purpose of this pilot proposal is to determine if exposure to agriculture dust places farm workers at greater risk of developing smoking related lung disease based on the prevalence of smoking among the male Hispanic farm worker population of California. We will use the spontaneous hypertensive (SH) rat model of chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD) to test whether agriculture dust increases tobacco smoke induced lung inflammation. This work will establish an appropriate dose of agriculture dust that causes lung inflammation and whether agriculture dust can exacerbate tobacco smoke induced lung inflammation. These results will be used as preliminary data when submitting for larger grants, such as from the Tobacco Related Disease Research Program or NIH, to further examine the relationship between exposure to agriculture dust and tobacco smoke related disease.
2012 WCAHS PARTIALLY FUNDED SEED GRANTS:
Immigration Reform: Implications for Farmers, Far Workers, and Communities
PI Phil Martin, Ag & Resource Economics, University of California Davis
GET MOVING: Taking the Reins! Arthritis Self-management & Prevention Education for Farming Communities
PI Martha Stiles, Dept of Bio & Ag Engineering, University of California Davis