Field Sanitation in U.S. Agriculture: Evidence from NAWS and Future Data Needs
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Field Sanitation in U.S. Agriculture: Evidence from NAWS and Future Data Needs

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    J Agromedicine. 23(2):123-133
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    J Agromedicine
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    Objectives: We studied relationships between demographic and work-related characteristics and exposure to health-related risk associated with field sanitation within the population of U.S. farmworkers while critically examining adequacy of existing data toward understanding patterns. Methods: We used statistical and econometric large-sample data methods to analyze correlations between observable variables and access to field sanitation as measured by responses to the nationally and regionally representative National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS). Results: Analysis suggests that field sanitation risk is relatively low on U.S. farms, especially in the most current periods, though there is regional variation. A number of socioeconomic characteristics are predictive of remaining gaps in access to basic field sanitation. We found that men, workers with less education, workers who do not speak English well, and those from Mexico are systematically more likely to lack access to field sanitation than are other workers, all else equal. We also found associations with job-related characteristics. Conclusion: We conclude that regulatory standards do not affect all workers equally and that field sanitation risk for some workers has continued though the current period. Basic sanitation definitions provided in available data are limited and may not reflect the true extent of risk associated with the incomplete nature of field sanitation access. This motivates the importance of continued study of field sanitation and of targeted public policies.
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