Copy of DSCF3339Green Tobacco sickness is an occupational illness which affects workers who touch green tobacco plants.  It is also called nicotine poisoning or “The Green Monster”. When you touch green tobacco leaves, especially wet leaves, you absorb nicotine through the pores of your skin.Nicotine is a powerful stimulant and if you absorb enough of it, you will have some painful symptoms of nicotine poisoning.

These symptoms can include:

  • headache
  • nausea and vomiting
  • weakness
  • abdominal cramps
  • dizziness
  • difficulty breathing
  • difficulty sleeping

Where the skin has come into contact with the tobacco leaves, it can become irritated and cause a rash.

The nicotine can also cause fluctuation in your blood pressure or heart rate.

You can minimize the illness by taking the following steps:

  • Always wear clothing that will protect you, like a long sleeve shirt and gloves
  • When your clothing become wet from the plants or perspiration, change to dry clothing.
  • Wash your clothing well after each use to remove the nicotine the cloth has absorbed
  • Wear clean clothes everyday.

Cotton shirts and gloves are recommended.  Water resistant clothes or gloves increase your risk of heat stress.

If you get Green Tobacco Sickness, you can see a doctor who can prescribe help for the symptoms. Generally, with time you will feel better, but drinking lots of fluids as if you had the flu will help, too.  If your employer has workers compensation, Green Tobacco Sickness is a covered occupational illness.