The association between occupational asthma and inhalation of dust containing egg proteins was evaluated in an egg processing facility (SIC-2015) where raw eggs were processed into powdered egg yolk and whole egg. Respirable and total dust samples were collected in the sifter and packaging rooms. Personal dust exposures in the two rooms were 12.8 and 7.3mg/m3, respectively, which were very close to the recommended maximal allowable concentrations (American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists). Area sampling results were 1.2 and 0.94mg/m3 for total dust and 0.07 and 0.03mg/m3 for respirable dust, respectively, in the two rooms. The bulk dust sample consisted of 50.5 percent protein with an amino acid composition similar to that of egg yolk protein. Medical histories were obtained from 25 workers, and their physical condition and lung function were analyzed every 3 hours (while awake) for 7 days. Their sensitivity to egg proteins and other egg preparations was assessed. Five cases of asthma associated with symptomatic bronchial lability were diagnosed. In all of them, sensitivity to egg proteins was demonstrated. The authors conclude that occupational asthma mediated by immunoglobulin-E occurs among workers exposed by inhalation to egg proteins.
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