Environmental surveys were conducted in 85 barns, predominantly dairy, in central Wisconsin to characterize exposures to organic dusts and dust constituents from routine barn work. Environmental analytes included airborne dusts (total, inhalable inlet, and respirable), particle size distributions, endotoxins, total spore and bacteria counts, viable bacteria and fungi, histamine, cow urine antigen, mite antigen, ammonia, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide. The geometric mean (GM) concentration of airborne dusts include area total, 0.74 mg/m3; personal inhalable inlet, 1.78 mg/m3; and area respirable, 0.07 mg/m3. Viable bacteria and fungi, spores, endotoxins, histamine, cow urine antigen, and mite antigen were quantifiable constituents of these organic dusts and potential respiratory exposure hazards from routine dairy barn work. Endotoxin concentrations from the inhalable inlet samples ranged from 25.4 endotoxin units per cubic meter of air (EU/m3) to 34,800 EU/m3. The GM endotoxin concentration from these samples, 647 EU/m3, exceeds estimated threshold exposure levels for respiratory health effects. Ammonia was a common irritant quantified in most dairy barns. There were significant correlations between the concentrations of organic dusts and certain dust constituents, although in most instances these correlations were not strong. These sampling results demonstrate the complex nature of organic dusts and provide quantitative description of the exposures to toxic and immunogenic dust constituents during routine barn work.
Microorganisms; Organic-dusts; Respirable-dust; Respiratory-system-disorders; Respiratory-irritants; Airborne-dusts; Airborne-particles; Particulates; Particulate-dust; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Endotoxins; Agricultural-workers; Agricultural-industry; Farmers; Fungi;
Author Keywords: ammonia; bioaerosol; dairy barns; endotoxin; histamine; organic dust
Clinical Investigations Branch, Division of Respiratory Diseases Studies, NIOSH - ALOSH - CDC, 1095 Willowdale Road, Morgantown, WV 26505-2888