Introduction and Methods

In this study, we evaluated self-reported respiratory symptoms during agricultural work, respiratory protection use and experience, and perceived value of receiving respirators using Gear Up for Ag Health and Safety Program™ pre- and post-surveys from 703 to 212 young adult hog producers in the United States. To our knowledge, this is one of the most extensive survey data sets on self-reported respiratory symptoms and respiratory protection behaviors of collegiate-aged young adults working in US livestock production.


About one-third (37%) of young adult hog producers stated that they have experienced cough, shortness of breath, fever, and chills after working in dusty areas on the farm. Most (76.2%) stated that they were already “always” or “sometimes” wearing filtering facepiece (N95-style) respirators, even before participating in an outreach program. About one-third (30%) reported experience wearing a cartridge-style respirator but only 5% reported having been fit-tested for a respirator. Young adult male producers were significantly more likely to report use of both respirator types when compared to females, both before and after the program. Male producers were also more likely than females to engage in high-risk farm tasks where respirators are recommended, such as cleaning out grain bins and mixing or grinding feed. Following an educational program, males and females reported using the respirators that they received at similar rates, and 20% of overall participants purchased additional respiratory protection.


The study found that young adult hog producers in postsecondary education are already wearing respirators with some frequency and at rates higher than previously reported by agricultural workers. More research is needed to make effective task-based respirator-use recommendations and investigate some significant gender differences among young adult hog producers observed in this study.


Wiley: Self-reported respiratory health symptoms and respiratory protection behaviors of young adult hog producers in the United States