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Immunological effects of egg proteins on egg-processing workers.

Massoudi M; Biagini R; Bernstein D; Pinkerton L; Hull D; Ruder A; Brown M; Boeniger M; Ward E
Am J Epidemiol 1996 Jun; 143(11)(Suppl):S18
Both ingested and inhaled egg proteins are potent allergens and workers exposed to airborne egg proteins are at risk for developing occupational asthma. To investigate respiratory complaints among egg-processing workers, we conducted a cross-sectional study examining the role of immunological effects of egg proteins. Referents were selected from a local box springs factory. We evaluated a battery of immunological blood tests, nasal washing(s) for histamine levels and eosinophils, serial peak flow measurements, and skin prick testing results for allergic responses to egg proteins and aeroallergens. Medical and work histories were obtained using standardized questionnaires. Seventy-five workers (42 exposed and 33 referent) participated in the study. The rate of atopy (positive for 2 aeroallergens) to common aeroallergens (24%) did not vary significantly by exposure status. Thirty-six percent of egg-exposed workers were skin prick positive to at least one egg component compared to none in the unexposed workers (p=.OOI). There were no differences in the number of T-, B-, or natural killer cells, or in total IgE levels between the egg-exposed and unexposed groups. However, exposed workers allergic to eggs had significantly higher IgE levels compared to exposed workers not allergic to eggs(p=.OOO3)or to unexposed workers(p=.O2). Exposed workers with both egg allergy and occupational asthma(n=5)had significantly higher IgE levels compared to exposed non-asthmatic(n=37)(p=.OO3)and unexposed workers(n=33) (p=.OI). These results found a high prevalence of sensitization to egg proteins among egg-processing workers. One third of sensitized workers had occupational asthma: Similar problems have been documented in other egg-processing plants. These findings suggest that airborne exposures in some egg-processing facilities should be better controlled.
Immune-reaction; Immune-system; Immunological-tests; Immunology; Epidemiology; Agricultural-processes; Agricultural-products; Agriculture; Work-environment; Worker-health; Workplace-studies; Air-contamination; Airborne-particles; Airborne-dusts; Immune-system-disorders; Immunologic-disorders; Immunological-tests; Blood-tests; Questionnaires
M Massoudi, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45226
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American Journal of Epidemiology
Page last reviewed: January 27, 2023
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division