Saf Health Work.  2018 Mar;9(1):71-74. 10.1016/

Green Tobacco Sickness Among Tobacco Harvesters in a Korean Village

  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine, Dongguk University College of Medicine, Gyeongju-si, Republic of Korea.


Green tobacco sickness (GTS), an occupational disease in tobacco harvesters, is a form of acute nicotine intoxication by nicotine absorption through the skin from the wet green tobacco plant. We carried out a questionnaire survey and measured cotinine concentration, the metabolic product of nicotine, to determine the prevalence, incidence, and risk factors of GTS in Korean tobacco harvesters.
We measured cotinine concentrations, and administered a questionnaire survey to tobacco harvesters in Cheongsong-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea. We repeatedly measured urine cotinine concentration five times with a questionnaire survey.
Cotinine concentration at dawn was significantly higher than that at other times; it was significantly lower during the nonharvesting period than during the harvesting period. However, little change in cotinine concentration was detected in the daytime during the harvesting period. Study participants included 20 men and 20 women. The prevalence of GTS was 37.5% and was significantly higher in women than in men (55.0% vs. 20.0%, p < 0.01). GTS incidence according to number of workdays was 3.4 occurrences/100 person days.
In this study, nicotine exposure and metabolism were experimentally determined from the time of cotinine exposure, and biological monitoring was performed in each season. In the future, this information may be valuable for medical decision-making in GTS prevention.


cotinine; farmers; tobacco; toxicity
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