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Evaluation of parlor cleaning as an intervention for decreased occupational exposure to dust and endotoxin among dairy parlor workers - a pilot study.

Choudhry AH; Reynolds SJ; Mehaffy J; Douphrate DI; Gilmore K; Levin JL; Nonnenmann MW
J Occup Environ Hyg 2012 Jul; 9(7):D136-D140
A greater prevalence of respiratory symptoms has been observed among workers involved in animal production compared to other farmers and rural residents.(1) In addition, respiratory diseases such as byssinosis,(2) asthma,(3) allergic alveolitis,(4) chronic bronchitis,(5) and the organic dust toxic syndrome (ODTS)(6) have been reported among workers in the animal feed industry, slaughterhouses, compost facilities, and other agriculture-related industries.(7) Respiratory hazards such as organic dust, microorganisms, fungi, molds, and endotoxin are common in the dairy industry.(8) Exposure to organic dust and endotoxin may lead to pulmonary inflammation among dairy parlor workers.(9-11) Organic dusts are associated with intensive livestock operations, such as dairy, swine, and poultry production; however differences in the components of these organic dusts have been reported.(12,13) A substantial amount of work has evaluated the effects of organic dust exposure among swine workers, whereas less is known about these exposures among dairy parlor workers.(13-16) Sources of organic dust on dairy farms include feed/hay grinding and animal sources, such as hair and feces.(17) Little information is available on the impact of these exposures among workers in the dairy industry. However, a few studies have demonstrated an association of dust and endotoxin exposure with markers of lung inflammation among dairy parlor workers.(9,12,18) The primary task of dairy parlor workers is to milk the cows. Cows are moved through the parlor building using workers to guide the animals as well as mechanical gating systems. Cows enter the parlor on an elevated platform for milking. Cows are typically milked three times a day over a series of three 8-hr shifts.(19) The walkways and other surfaces that come into contact with the animals become soiled with animal waste. Workers use an automated cleaning system to remove animal waste from the parlor surfaces. Therefore, increasing the frequency in which these walkways and other surfaces are cleaned may reduce the concentration of aerosolized dust and endotoxin in the milking parlor. Parlor workers spend their work shift in proximity to cows and animal waste, which may be sources of inhalation exposure to organic dust and endotoxin. Therefore, these workers may be more exposed to inflammatory agents, as organic dust and endotoxin, compared to other workers on the dairy farm. The objective of our study was to assess occupational exposure to dust and endotoxin among dairy parlor workers. This study also evaluated the effectiveness of increasing the frequency of cleaning the dairy parlor surfaces on dust and endotoxin inhalation exposure among parlor workers.
Respiratory-system-disorders; Dust-exposure; Dusts; Endotoxins; Agricultural-workers; Farmers; Animals; Animal-husbandry-workers; Animal-products-workers; Agriculture; Slaughterhouses; Respirable-dust; Health-hazards; Microorganisms; Fungi; Molds; Organic-dusts; Livestock-industry; Poultry-workers; Dairy-products; Waste-treatment; Hazardous-waste-cleanup; Lung-irritants; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Exposure-assessment; Cleaning-compounds
Matthew W. Nonnenmann, Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, University of Iowa, 200 UI Research Park, 134 IREH, Iowa City, IA
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement; Agriculture
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U50-OH-007541; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U50-OH-008085; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U54-OH-007541; B07092012
Issue of Publication
Priority Area
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
Source Name
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
Performing Organization
University of Texas Health Center at Tyler
Page last reviewed: October 21, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division