The NC Agromedicine Institute is a University of North Carolina Institute.

Member Universities:
East Carolina University
North Carolina State University
NC Agricultural & Technical State University
Reducing Potential Tobacco Nitrosamine Levels and Skin Cancer for Tobacco Farm Workers
Project Name: Reducing Potential Tobacco Nitrosamine Levels and Skin Cancer for Tobacco Farm Workers

Project Coordinator: Mitch Smith, Cooperative Extension Director, Pitt County, North Carolina

Project Type: Core Feasibility Education/Outreach

Project Description: This project will address two educational objectives in Pitt County, North Carolina. These are to:

  1. Monitor the performance of tobacco barn heat exchangers for county tobacco growers and to promote improved fuel efficiency in curing

    All tobacco curing barns are required to be equipped with heat exchangers which expel the exhaust fumes from the curing chamber. Heat exchangers are believed to reduce a cancer cause agent known as “nitrosamines.” Tobacco extension agents from across the flue-cured area have implemented this project which uses carbon dioxide meters to determine whether barn heat exchangers are functioning properly. When a tobacco farmer participates in this program, these meters are be placed in the barn for a total of fifteen minutes in order to monitor the carbon dioxide levels. Since carbon dioxide is a by-product of the formation of nitrosamines, the measurement of the carbon dioxide levels in barns has proven to be valuable to farmers in determining whether their heat exchangers are cracked or in need of further maintenance.

  2. Provide skin cancer education to tobacco growers and tobacco farm workers

    Since farmers and farm workers are considered to be at a greater risk of developing skin cancer, providing information related to this health risk is a priority for local Extension agents. The focus of this effort will be to target meetings, field days, tours, and on-farm visits to provide this information. An educational display has been developed which provides information on the different types of skin cancer and the proper selection of sun block to reduce this health risk.

Project Accomplishments

Newsletter Article: ‘Tobacco Barn Project Benefits Health & Bottom Line’