Publication date

Living in the vicinity of agriculture fields: An exploration of perceptions of local residents.

Baliatsas, C., IJzermans, C.J., Verheij, R.A., x. Living in the vicinity of agriculture fields: An exploration of perceptions of local residents. European Journal of Public Health: 2018, 28(supl. 4) 334. Abstracts: 11 th European Public Health conference: Winds of change: towards new ways of improving public health in Europe, Ljubljana, Slovenia 28 November –1 December 2018.
Perceptions about the living environment such as perceived exposure and sensitivity to environmental pollutants, causal beliefs and worry are often associated with self-reported health outcomes, although they do not always correspond to the actual levels of exposure. The present study investigated these aspects in a population sample living in the vicinity of fruit crop fields and assessed the association with self-reported health problems, such as non-specific physical symptoms, sleep quality and psychological distress.

Within the framework of a larger epidemiological study in the Netherlands, a cross-sectional health survey was performed in 2017, based on a sample of 3756 participants (age 16 years) living in rural areas with a high concentration of fruit crops. Validated instruments were employed to assess environmental and health characteristics.

The study population had a generally positive attitude towards agricultural land use. After adjustment for demographic and residential characteristics, preliminary results indicate that selfreported symptoms were significantly associated with higher levels of environmental worries about various pollutants and perceived exposure to pesticides. Perceived exposure had a weak correlation with proxies of ‘‘actual’’ exposure, such as
distance to crop fields.

Perceived exposure and environmental worries seem to be determinants of self-reported health outcomes, independent of estimated levels of ‘‘actual’’ exposure.

Key messages
The study population had in general a positive attitude towards agricultural land use.
The potential confounding or modifying role of perceptions should further be explored.