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VIRIAM – Exposure to viruses in occupational settings

The project aims to fill knowledge gaps regarding airborne virus exposure in the sewage and waste management industries, to better understand potential health risks posed by viruses in occupational settings.

Working in the sewage and waste management industry entails exposure to different biological components, including fungus, bacteria, and viruses. Starting in these industries, STAMI will conduct a research project that focuses on airborne viruses in occupational settings. Studies on the occurrence of virus in working environments are scarce, and more knowledge about such exposure may contribute to a better understanding of potential health risks.

The project will measure the prevalence of selected virus groups in the aerosols of workplaces, characterize the virus-laden particles and assess the potential infection risk they represent. Seasonal and task-related variations in exposure level will be compared to data on reported stomach and respiratory ailments.

The composition of viruses in the workplace air (the airborne virome) will be characterized, to get an indication of the total viral burden, not only the human pathogenic viruses. Cell models will be used to get more insight in interactions between the immune system and viruses, both individually and in association with other bioaerosol components.

The project will greatly increase the knowledge of bioaerosol composition and thus provide a basis for designing measures to reduce exposure and potential adverse health effects.

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