WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Two senior Wake Forest University School of Medicine faculty members have received a top award from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and NIOSH’s partner organizations under the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA).
Thomas A. Arcury, Ph.D., professor of family and community medicine, and Sara A. Quandt, Ph.D., professor of public health sciences, won the NORA Innovative Research Award for Worker Health and Safety for their work in reducing the impact of green tobacco sickness among Latino farm workers.
The award was presented on Tuesday, April 18, on the first day of a three-day National Occupational Research Agenda symposium at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Green tobacco sickness is acute nicotine poisoning caused by nicotine passing through the skin from contact with tobacco leaves. It is characterized by headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. The workers also complain of insomnia and anorexia.
“Green tobacco sickness impairs the work productivity and threatens the health of minority farm workers who supply most tobacco labor in the United States and small farmers who cultivate much of the tobacco abroad,” Arcury said.
In the research, the two discovered that wet clothing accelerated green tobacco sickness and that changing out of wet clothing quickly or wearing protective clothing could prevent it. Research findings were used to develop health education materials to help workers avoid green tobacco sickness and continuing medical education programs for health care providers.
The research was supported by a NIOSH grant as well as by funds from the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Albert Schweitzer Fellows Program and the Bureau of Primary Healthcare of the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.
The purposes of the NORA award are to “recognize the development of or encourage continued work with a new approach to prevent or reduce occupational illnesses and injury.”
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Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, which operates the university’s School of Medicine. U.S. News & World Report ranks Wake Forest University School of Medicine 18th in family medicine, 20th in geriatrics, 25th in primary care and 41st in research among the nation's medical schools. It ranks 32nd in research funding by the National Institutes of Health. Almost 150 members of the medical school faculty are listed in Best Doctors in America.