Dairy workers are at heightened risk of developing respiratory ailments because of particles inhaled on the job, and a group of Colorado State University researchers is using a federal grant of nearly $1 million to help find ways to protect their heath.

Colorado’s dairy industry grew by about 20% between 2007 to 2012, when the state’s 131,000 milk cows produced more than 3.2 billion pounds of milk, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. The number of dairy workers that year, the most recent for which figures are available from the US Department of Agriculture, totaled nearly 3,000, mostly in northeastern Colorado.

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