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Work tasks as determinants of grain dust and microbial exposure in the norwegian grain and compound feed industry

Objectives: The grain and compound feed industry entails inevitable risks of exposure to grain dust and its microbial content. The objective of this study was therefore to investigate task-dependent exposure differences in order to create knowledge basis for awareness and exposure reducing measures in the Norwegian grain and compound feed industry. Methods: A total of 166 samples of airborne dust were collected by full-shift personal sampling during work in 20 grain elevators and compound feed mills during one autumn season and two winter seasons. The personal exposure to grain dust, endotoxins, β-1→3-glucans, bacteria, and fungal spores was quantified and used as individual outcomes in mixed models with worker nested in company as random effect and different departments and tasks as fixed effects. Results: The exposure levels were highest in grain elevator departments. Exposure to endotoxins was particularly high. Tasks that represented the highest and lowest exposures varied depending on the bioaerosol component. The most important determinants for elevated dust exposure were cleaning and process controlling. Cleaning increased the dust exposure level by a factor of 2.44 of the reference, from 0.65 to 1.58mg m–3, whereas process controlling increased the dust exposure level by a factor of 2.97, from 0.65 to...

Straumfors, Anne; Heldal, Kari Emilie; Wouters, Inge M.; Wijnand, Eduard
Annals of Occupational Hygiene 59(6): 724–736
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