Academic Article


  • 2012

Aims: To evaluate bagasse (sugar cane fibres) and microbiological exposure among sugar cane refinery workers in Costa Rica and its relationships with respiratory, allergy and eye problems. Methods: Ventilatory lung function and total serum IgE were measured in 104 sugar cane workers in five departments at one refinery before the harvesting season, and repeated for 77 of the workers at the end of the season. Information on the prevalence of respiratory and other symptoms was collected with a standardised questionnaire. During the harvesting season, inhalable dust, endotoxin and mould levels were measured among 74 randomly selected sugar cane workers across departments. Results: During the harvesting season, dust levels were relatively high in some departments, while endotoxin and mould levels were around background levels. Workers' ventilatory lung function differed between departments before, but not during the harvesting season or between seasons. During the harvesting season, the prevalence of wheeze and eye problems almost doubled in workers exposed to bagasse and other types of dust, whereas shortness of breath and rhinitis increased only in bagasse-exposed workers. Reporting wheeze and shortness of breath was positively associated with the number of years working at the refinery, suggesting a long-term health effect. Conclusion: In this...

Gascon, Mireia; Kromhout, Hans; Heederik, Dick; Wijnand, Eduard; de Joode, Berna van Wendel
Occupational and Environmental Medicine BMJ Publishing Group, Occupational and Environmental Medicine 69(5): 331–338
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