Exposure of hop growers to bioaerosols.
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Department of Occupational Biohazards, Institute of Agricultural Medicine, Lublin, Poland
Laboratory of Electron Microscopy, Institute of Pediatrics, Collegium Medicum, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland
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Anna Góra   

Department of Occupational Biohazards, Institute of Agricultural Medicine, Jaczewskiego2, 20-090 Lublin, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med. 2004;11(1):129-138
Air sampling was performed during picking and sorting of hop (Humulus lupulus) cones on 19 hop farms located in eastern Poland. The concentration and composition of airborne microflora and the concentration of airborne dust and endotoxin were determined. Additionally, 7 samples of settled hop dust were collected and examined for the presence of microorganisms and endotoxin. Total concentrations of airborne microorganisms were within a range of 2.08–129.58 × 103 cfu/m3. Gram-positive bacteria formed 22.2–96% of the total count. Among them, prevailed corynebacteria and endospore-forming bacilli. Fungi constituted 3.7–65.4% of the total count. The dominant species were Penicillium citrinum, Alternaria alternata, and Cladosporium epiphyllum. Thermophilic actinomycetes and Gram-negative bacteria were detected in the air of only 10 and 6 farms, respectively. Airborne dust concentrations at the workplace ranged from 0.17–31.67 mg/m3. The concentrations of airborne endotoxin were in the range of 26–6250 ng/m3. In the samples of settled dust, the concentrations of total microorganisms ranged from 0.25 × 106 to 2.87 × 108 cfu/g. Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria constituted respectively 3.2–98% and 0-93.5% of the total count. Fungi formed 0–30.3% of the total count. The most common species were Penicillium spp. and Alternaria alternata. The concentrations of endotoxin were in the range of 312.5–6250 µg/g (median 6250 µg/g). The presence of microorganisms and endotoxin in the samples of settled dust was confirmed by electron microscopy. The hop growers seem to be exposed to lower concentrations of dust, microorganisms and endotoxin compared to other branches of agriculture. This may be partly due to antimicrobial properties of hop plant. Among microbial factors associated with hop dust, bacterial endotoxin and allergenic fungi pose the greatest potential hazard for exposed hop farmers.
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