Working With Flood Damaged Crops

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) recommends that respiratory protection be worn by individuals who will be involved in the removal or destruction of crops that were covered by flood waters and show signs of extensive mold.

Exposure to moldy, damaged, dusty grain can cause significant health issues for people. Symptoms from exposure may include cough, chest tightness, malaise (a general feeling of discomfort, illness, or feeling “ill-at-ease”), headache, muscle aches, and fever. For some individuals, exposure to massive amounts of moldy grain can result in conditions called “organic dust toxic syndrome” and “hypersensitivity pneumonitis.”

To protect yourself during the removal or destruction of crops with extensive mold contamination, IDPH recommends a properly fitting, NIOSH-approved and certified “N-95” respirator be worn. Individuals with underlying respiratory or cardiovascular health problems should check with their medical provider before working with moldy crops, and should not wear a respirator without the approval of their medical provider.

If you feel ill after working around crops that were flooded or showing mold, contact your medical provider.

Contact your local health professional to receive additional recommendations on the type of respirator that can be safely worn. Medical providers and agricultural workers can find more information regarding respiratory personal protective equipment (PPE) online or by contacting an AgriSafe Network clinic.

Additional safety regulations for respiratory protection may apply in employer/employee situations, including farms, grain elevators or feed mills. Contact the Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Consultation and Education program for more information at 515-281-7629. You can also visit them on the Web.

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