RESEARCH PAPER
Airway inflammation among compost workers exposed to actinomycetes spores
 
More details
Hide details
1
National Institute of Occupational Health, Oslo, Norway
 
Ann Agric Environ Med. 2015;22(2):253–258
KEYWORDS
ABSTRACT
Objectives:
To study the associations between exposure to bioaerosols and work-related symptoms, lung function and biomarkers of airway inflammation in compost workers.

Material and Methods:
Personal full-shift exposure measurements were performed on 47 workers employed at five windrow plants (n=20) and five reactor plants (n=27). Samples were analyzed for endotoxins, bacteria, fungal and actinomycetes spores. Health examinations were performed on workers and 37 controls before and after work on the day exposure was measured. The examinations included symptoms recorded by questionnaire, lung function by spirometry and nasal dimensions by acoustic rhinometry (AR). The pneumoproteins CC16, SP-D and SP-A were measured in a blood sample drawn at the end of the day.

Results:
The levels of endotoxins (median 3 EU/m3 , range 0–730 EU/m3) and actinomycetes spores (median 0.2 × 106 spores/m3, range 0–590 × 106 spores/m3) were significantly higher in reactor plants compared to windrow plants. However, windrow composting workers reported more symptoms than reactor composting workers, probably due to use of respiratory protection. Exposure-response relationships between actinomycetes spores exposure and respiratory effects, found as cough and nose irritation during a shift, was significantly increased (OR 4.3, 95% CI 1.1–16, OR 6.1, 95% CI 1.5–25, respectively, p<0.05) among workers exposed to 0.02–0.3 × 106 actinomycetes spores/m3, and FEV1/FVC% decreased cross shift (b=–3.2, SE=1.5%, p<0.01). Effects were weaker in the highest exposed group, but these workers used respiratory protection, frequently limiting their actual exposure. No relationships were found between exposure and pneumoprotein concentrations.

Conclusions:
The major agent in the aerosol generated at compost plants was actinomycetes spores which was associated with work related cough symptoms and work-shift lung function decrease.

 
REFERENCES (24)
1.
Heldal KK, Eduard W, Bergum M. Bioaerosol exposure during handling of source separated household waste. Ann Agric Environ Med. 1997; 4: 45–51.
 
2.
van Tongeren M, van Amelsvoort L, Heederik D. Exposure to organic dust, endotoxins, and microorganisms in the municipal waste industry. Int J Occup Environ Health. 1997; 3: 30–36.
 
3.
Douwes J, Wouters IM, Dubbeld H, van Zwieten, Steerenberg P, Doekes G et al. Upper airway inflammation assessed by nasal lavage in compost workers: A relation with bio-aerosol exposure. Am J Ind Med. 2000; 37: 459–468.
 
4.
Wouters IM, Spaan S, Douwes J, Duekes G, Heederik D. Overview of personal occupational exposure levels to inhalable dust, endotoxins,β(1–3)-glucan and fungal extracellular polysaccharides in the waste management chain. Am Occup Hyg. 2006; 50: 39–53.
 
5.
Bünger J, Antlauf-Lammers M, Schulz TG, Westphal GA, Müller MM, Ruhnau P et al. Health complaints and immunological markers of exposure to bioaerosols among biowaste collectors and compost workers. Occup Environ Med. 2000; 57: 458–464.
 
6.
Bünger J, Schappler-Scheele B, Hilgers R, Haallier E. A 5-year follow-up study on respiratory disorders and lung function in workers exposed to organic dust from composting plants. Int Arch Environ Health. 2007; 80: 306–312.
 
7.
Domingo JL, Nadal M. Domestic waste composting facilities: A review of human health risks. Environment International 2009; 35: 382–389.
 
8.
Poole CJM, Wong M. Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis in garden waste (compost) collectors- occupational implications. Occup Med. 2013; 63: 517–519.
 
9.
Heldal KK, Barregard L, Larsson P, Ellingsen D. Pneumoproteins in sewage workers exposed to sewage dust. Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2013; 86: 65–70.
 
10.
Melbostad E, Eduard W, Skogstad A, Sandven P, Lassen J, Søstrand P, et al. Exposure, symptoms and airway inflammation among sewage workers. Am J Ind Med. 1994; 25: 59–63.
 
11.
Van der Wal JF. Comparative measurements of the total dust concentration at the work place with different samplers – part 1. Staub-Reinhalt Luft. 1983; 43: 292–294 (in German).
 
12.
Heldal K, Skogstad A, Eduard W. Improvements in the Quantification of Airborne Micro-organisms in the Farm Environment by Epifluorescence Microscopy. Ann Occup Hyg. 1996; 40: 437–447.
 
13.
Eduard W, Sandven P, Johansen B, Bruun R. Identification and quantification of mould spores by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Ann Occup Hyg. 1988; 32: 447–445.
 
14.
Douwes J, Versloot P, Hollander A, Heederik D, Doekes G. Influence of various dust sampling extraction methods on the measurements of endotoxin. Appl Environ Microbiol. 1995; 61: 1763–1769.
 
15.
American Thoracic Society. Standardisation of spirometry – 1987 update. Am Rev Respir Dis. 1987; 136: 1285–1298.
 
16.
British Thoracic Society. Guidelines for the management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Thorax 1997; 5: 1–26.
 
17.
Anon. Acoustic rhinometry – standardization and use. Rhinology 2000; (Suppl. 16.).
 
18.
Mamikogulu B, Houser SM, Corey JP. An interpretation method for objective assessment of nasal congestion with acoustic rhinometry. Laryngoschope 2002; 112: 926–929.
 
19.
ATS/ERS Recommendations for standardized procedure for the online and offline measurement of exhaled lower respiratory Nitric Oxide and Nasal Nitric Oxide. Am J Crit Care Med. 2005; 171: 912–930.
 
20.
Tolvanen O, Nykänen J, Nivukoski A, Himanen M, Veijanen A, Hänninen K. Occupational hygiene in a Finnish drum composting plant. Waste Management 2005; 25: 427–433.
 
21.
Eduard W. Fungal spores: a critical review of the toxicological and epidemiological evidence as a basis for occupational exposure limit setting. Crit Rev Toxicol. 2009; 39: 799–864.
 
22.
Schlosser O, Huyard A, Cartnick K, Yañez A, Catalán V, Quang ZD. Bioaerosol in composting facilities: Occupational health risk assessment. Water Environ Res. 2009; 81: 866–877.
 
23.
Singh U, Levin L, Grinsphun A, Schaffer C, Adhikari A, Reponen T. Influence of home characteristics on airborne and dustborn endotoxin and β- D -glucan. J Environ Monit. 2011; 13: 3246–3253.
 
24.
Heldal KK, Madsø L, Huser PO, Eduard W. Exposure, symptoms and airway inflammation among sewage workers. Ann Agric Environ Med. 2010; 17: 263–268.
 
eISSN:1898-2263
ISSN:1232-1966