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Exposure to flour dust and sensitization among bakery employees.
Page EH; Dowell CH; Mueller CA; Biagini RE; Heederik D
Am J Ind Med 2010 Dec; 53(12):1225-1232
Background: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health conducted a study to determine prevalences of sensitization to bakery-associated antigens (BAAs) and work-related respiratory symptoms at a large commercial bakery. Methods:The following measurements were carried out: personal breathing zone (PBZ) and general area (GA) monitoring for inhalable flour dust, alpha-amylase and wheat, a questionnaire, and blood tests for IgE specific to flour dust, wheat, alpha-amylase, and common aeroallergens. Results: Of 186 bakery employees present during our site visit, 161completed the questionnaire and 96 allowed their blood to be drawn. The geometric mean PBZ and GA inhalable flour dust concentrations for the lower-exposure group was 0.235 mg/m3, and for the higher-exposure group was 3.01 mg/m3. Employees in the higher-exposure group had significantly higher prevalences of work-related wheezing, runny nose, stuffy nose, and frequent sneezing than the lower-exposure group. The prevalence of IgE specific to wheat was significantly higher among employees who ever had a job in the higher-exposure group or in production at another bakery at both the >/= 0.10 kU/L and the >/= 0.35 kU/L cutoffs, and to flour dust and alpha-amylase at the >/= 0.10 kU/L cutoff, compared to the lower-exposure group. Conclusions: Despite knowledge of the risks of exposure to flour being available for centuries, U.S. employees are still at risk of sensitization and respiratory symptoms from exposure to high levels of BAA.
Antigens; Sensitization; Bakery-workers; Respiratory-system-disorders; Breathing-zone; Sampling; Food-handlers; Food-processing-workers; Foodstuff; Allergens; Questionnaires; Blood-tests; Dust-exposure; Dust-sampling; Dusts; Risk-analysis; Bronchial-asthma; Author Keywords: flour; alpha-amylase; wheat; asthma; rash; respiratory; bakers; sensitization
Elena H. Page, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Mailstop R-10, Cincinnati, OH 45226
Issue of Publication
Services; Healthcare and Social Assistance; Manufacturing
American Journal of Industrial Medicine
Page last reviewed: July 8, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division