The different effects of climate extremes on physiological health among agroecology and conventional smallholder rice farmers

Vivien How, Nur Afiqa Maryam Baharudin, Shyamli Singh, How Ran Guo, Dang Quang Thinh, Raihanah Chokeli, Nurul Syazani Yuswir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As climate change increases temperatures and the frequency of extreme heat events, farm workers are among the most affected. Because of the nature of the work, farmers working at hot temperatures may experience physiological changes in their body such as increases in body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate, as well as leading to intolerance of blood glucose and blood cholesterol. This study speculates that extreme heat hazards may lead to incidence of heat-related diseases among farmers in the workplace and other metabolic disorders. The purpose of this study is to determine the potential health effects of heat exposure between agroecology and conventional rice farmers. This study recruited 33 agroecology and 25 conventional rice farmers in the northern state of peninsular Malaysia. The adapted questionnaire was used to obtain the respondent's background information. Also, the environmental and physiological measurements were carried out to determine the heat stress index (HSI) and physiological strain index (PSI). The HSI was monitored by using WetBulb globe temperature meter, whereas the physiological parameters were assessed by using thermometer, blood pressure monitor, and blood cholesterol/glucose monitor kit. The study shows that there is a significant difference between HSI, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels among organic and conventional farmers. Both groups of farmers also have a significant association between blood glucose and blood pressure. The findings of this study suggest that pesticide use can act as a synergistic effect, resulting in more significant health effects for those who were exposed to heat in their work environment. Given the impact of climate change on the agriculture sector, the disparity in the heat-related health effects between pesticides used and nonpesticides used farming community may serve as a critical factor to consider while implementing the workplace heat stress program in the agricultural industry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-54
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Justice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Apr

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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