Pilot Project: Validation of Sampling and Analytic Techniques for Fungi and Bacteria in Agricultural Organic Dust Exposure

(NIOSH/CDC, 1997-2000) The main goal of this project was to develop a validated questionnaire for the detection of asthma in community-based studies of Spanish-speaking Mexican populations in Washington State. A secondary goal was to collect pilot prevalence data on asthma in the Yakima Valley Hispanic population. Asthma, now recognized as one of the most common occupational lung diseases, is associated with many differing agricultural exposures. The Spanish-speaking migrant and seasonal farm worker population represents a large percentage of Region X and the U.S. agricultural workforce, but relatively little is known about asthma in this population. One major reason is the absence of a sensitive and specific asthma questionnaire. This project assembled a single translated respiratory symptom questionnaire from previously applied respiratory symptom surveys, translated and back translated and applied by an interviewer to 50 asthmatics and 50 non-asthmatics recruited from the Toppenish Farm Worker Clinic. Then, 10 teams of graduate students applied the questionnaire among more than 100 middle Yakima Valley residents in a pilot survey to obtain a crude prevalence estimate of asthma to be used as preliminary data for a future larger application.