Year of Publication



Public Health

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

Committee Chair

Dr. Wayne T. Sanderson

Committee Member

Dr. Steven Browning

Committee Member

Dr. Timothy Prince


Objective: The purpose of this study is to assess the association between self-reported respiratory symptoms in Latino workers and bedding type used in stalls on thoroughbred horse farms.

Methods: Self-reported community-based questionnaire data from 225 Latino horse farm workers in the southeastern US collected from October 2013-April 2014 were used to investigate associations between upper and lower respiratory symptom prevalence and the type of bedding used in stalls (straw, sawdust, or straw plus wood shavings or sawdust). Analysis was performed by chi-square to compare frequencies of symptoms and demographic and exposure risk factors. Logistic regression was used to adjust comparisons of symptoms with bedding type to control for potential confounders. A p-value less than 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

Results: Upper or lower respiratory symptoms were reported in over half the subjects. 86% of the sample was male. A small percent were current smokers (17%) and over half stated they never smoked (57%). More than two-thirds stated they never, seldom, or only sometimes wore a dust mask. Over two-thirds only used straw in horse stalls (68%), 24% used straw mixed with wood shavings or sawdust, and 8% used sawdust alone. One-third of sawdust workers reported upper respiratory symptoms and 28% lower respiratory symptoms. Half of the straw only subjects reported upper or lower respiratory symptoms. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of straw plus wood shavings or sawdust subjects reported upper respiratory symptoms and more than half reported lower respiratory symptoms (59%). Males had decreased odds for both upper (OR: 0.41 CI: 0.17-0.97) and lower respiratory symptoms (OR: 0.2 CI: 0.08-0.53). Former smokers had increased odds for both upper (OR: 2.78 CI: 1.09-7.08) and lower respiratory symptoms (OR: 2.96 CI: 1.15-7.59). Never, seldom or sometimes use of dust masks had increased odds of upper (OR: 2.76 CI: 1.44-5.29) and lower respiratory symptoms (OR: 1.99 CI: 1.03-3.85). Workers in barns using sawdust had lower odds for lower respiratory symptoms, but this did not reach the level of significance.

Conclusion: Many Latino horse farm workers reported experiencing upper or lower respiratory symptoms. The findings in this analysis suggest that sawdust as a bedding type may be protective in development of respiratory symptoms, but small sample size was a limitation in this analysis.

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