Bioaerosol exposure during handling of source separated household waste
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National Institute of Occupational Health, Oslo, Norway
Ann Agric Environ Med. 1997;4(1):45-51
In this study the exposure level of microorganisms, endotoxins and dust among workers using different collection equipment for source separated household waste were compared to collection of unsorted waste. In addition, exposure levels among workers at composting plants were estimated. Municipalities that implemented full-scale source separation system using different equipment were selected: closed container with two wheels (Kristiansand), compostainer (aerated container with two wheels) (Innherred) and source separating cabinet (Senja). The collection systems for unsorted waste were closed containers and plastic sacks in sack holders. Samples were collected by personal sampling for eight hours each day during one week both in the summer and winter time. Measurements of sorted and unsorted waste collection were done on the same day. At the composting plant exposure levels were estimated during separate work operations. No significant differences were found between exposure levels of microorganisms during collection of biowaste and unsorted waste except for the compostainer/sack system in the summer. There was a significantly higher exposure level (total count 3.6 × 106 cells/m3) using low loading (1 m) compared to loading at 1.8 m (0.8 × 106 cells/m3). The residual fraction (collection frequency of 4 weeks) showed the same exposure level as biowaste (1.3 × 106 cells/m3). Comparisons between the systems for biowaste indicated a higher exposure level for closed container (3.6 × 106 cells/m3) than the compostainer (1.2 × 106 cells/m3) in the summer, which decreased to (0.4 × 106cells/m3) in the winter while the compostainer did not, probably due to the heat produced in the composting process. Exposure levels to endotoxins during waste collection were very low (< 8 EU/m3). At the composting plant the endotoxin concentration was moderate, but reached 170 EU/m3 in only one sample in which also the microorganisms concentration was high. Samples collected during work in closed cabins were substantially lower.
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