Assessment of human exposure to airborne fungi in agricultural confinements:personal inhalable sampling versus stationary sampling.

Shu-An Lee,  
Center for Health-Related Aerosol Studies, Department of Environmental Health,University of Cincinnati, 3223 Eden Avenue, PO Box 670056, Cincinnati, Ohio 45267-0056, USA. adhikaa@email.uc.edu
Ann Agric Environ Med 2004;11(2):269–277
Accurate exposure assessment to airborne fungi in agricultural environmentsis essential for estimating the associated occupational health hazards of workers. The objective of thispilot study was to compare personal and stationary sampling for assessing farmers' exposure to airbornefungi in 3 different agricultural confinements located in Ohio, USA (hog farm, dairy farm, and grainfarm), using Button Personal Inhalable Samplers. Personal exposures were measured with samplers wornby 3 subjects (each carrying 2 samplers) during 3 types of activities, including animal feeding in thehog farm, cleaning and animal handling in the dairy farm, and soybean unloading and handling in the grainfarm. Simultaneously, the stationary measurements were performed using 5 static Button Samplers and 1revolving Button Sampler. The study showed that the total concentration of airborne fungi ranged from1.4 x 10(4)-1.2 x 10(5) spores m(-3) in 3 confinements. Grain unloading and handling activity generatedhighest concentrations of airborne fungi compared to the other 2 activities. Prevalent airborne fungibelonged to Cladosporium, Aspergillus/Penicillium, Ascospores, smut spores, Epicoccum, Alternaria, andBasidiospores. Lower coefficients of variations were observed for the fungal concentrations measuredby personal samplers (7-12%) compared to the concentrations measured by stationary samplers (27-37%).No statistically significant difference was observed between the stationary and personal measurementdata for the total concentrations of airborne fungi (p > 0.05). Revolving stationary and static stationaryButton Samplers demonstrated similar performance characteristics for the collection of airborne fungi.This reflects the low sensitivity of the sampler's efficiency to the wind speed and direction. The resultsindicate that personal exposure of agricultural workers in confinements may be adequately assessed byplacing several Button Samplers simultaneously operating in a static stationary mode throughout the worksite.