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NIOSH Alert: Request for Assistance in Preventing Organic Dust Toxic Syndrome

CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) periodically issues alerts on workplace hazards that have caused death, serious injury, or illness to workers. One such alert, Request for Assistance in Preventing Organic Dust Toxic Syndrome (1), was recently published and is available to the public. *

This alert warns agricultural workers who inhale contaminated organic dust that they can develop serious respiratory illness. One of the most common illnesses is organic dust toxic syndrome (ODTS), a respiratory and systemic illness that can follow exposures to heavy concentrations of organic dusts contaminated with microorganisms. An estimated 30%-40% of workers exposed to such organic dusts will develop ODTS. The alert describes four incidents in which 29 agricultural workers developed ODTS. Also described are the various medical conditions that ODTS includes and the health effects associated with the syndrome. The alert provides recommendations for minimizing the risk for exposure to organic dusts and for the use of respirators.


  1. NIOSH. Request for assistance in preventing organic dust toxic syndrome. Cincinnati: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, CDC, 1994; DHHS publication no. (NIOSH)94-102.

    • Single copies of this document are available without charge from the Publications Office, Division of Standards Development and Technology Transfer, NIOSH, CDC, Mailstop C-13, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45226-1998; telephone (800) 356-4674 ({513} 533-8328 for persons outside the United States); fax (513) 533-8573.

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Page converted: 09/19/98


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