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Methods and results of an investigation of egg protein exposure in an egg processing plant.

Boeniger M; Lummus Z; Biagini R; Massoudi M
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 19-23, 1997, Dallas, Texas. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 1997 May; :27-28
Proteinaceous materials in the air can be highly allergenic and result in a range of immunologically mediated respiratory effects, including asthma. We report on the largest evaluation of exposure to date of airborne egg protein concentrations in an egg breaking and processing plant that had reported cases of occupational asthma. Personal air sampling among employees in each department was conducted to determine magnitude of exposure. Stationary area sampling with 10-mm cyclones and total matched pairs were used to assess the proportion of respirable and total aerosol concentrations. Egg protein was analyzed in duplicate on each Teflon filter using two analytical methods: (1) a commercial BCA protein assay for nonspecific total protein, and (2) indirect competitive inhibition ELISA, with the use of an IgG isolype-specific assay for rabbit antibody bound to antigen-coated plates for specific egg protein components. The results of this study indicated those departments where the highest concentrations of egg protein exist and where efforts to improve engineering controls might be focused. The highest concentrations, in the egg washing room (mean exposure 644 ug/m3) and breaking room (255 ug/m3), also coincide with the departments from which the most employees sensitized to egg-protein had worked. About half of the total protein concentration was of a respirable size, and the difference between the respirable mass and total mass collected was statistically significant. There was excellent quantitative agreement between the nonspecific assay and the sum of the specific proteins-ovalbumin, ovomucoid, and lysozyme (correlation coefficient of the log-transformed data was 0.88, p<0.0001). These methods can be utilized to evaluate employee exposure to egg proteins and may be used to assess exposure to other proteinaceous materials.
Proteins; Airborne-particles; Air-contamination; Allergic-disorders; Allergic-reactions; Allergies; Immunology; Immune-reaction; Immune-system; Respiration; Respiratory-irritants; Exposure-levels; Air-sampling; Aerosol-particles; Aerosol-sampling; Aerosols
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American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 19-23, 1997, Dallas, Texas
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division