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Health hazard evaluation report: evaluation of sensitization and exposure to flour dust, spices, and other ingredients among poultry breading workers.
Page-EH; Dowell-CH; Mueller-CA; Biagini-RE
Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, HETA 2009-0131-3171, 2013 Apr; :1-35
The HHE Program evaluated employees' exposures to breading dust containing flour, spices, and other ingredients at a poultry breading plant. Reported health symptoms included asthma, bronchitis, and nasal symptoms. Investigators took air samples for inhalable flour dust, wheat, and soy and took samples of employees' blood to see if they were allergic to flour dust, wheat, garlic, onion, soybean, corn, or paprika. They also surveyed employees about their job and health. The air sampling showed that employees in almost all areas of the plant had the potential for exposure to flour dust levels above the threshold limit value of 0.5 milligrams per cubic meter, set by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists. Investigators grouped employees as "lower-exposure" or "higher-exposure" based on their exposure to flour, other ingredients, and uncooked breaded product in their current job. Samples taken for inhalable flour dust from the air in the personal breathing zone of employees in the higher-exposure group had a median value of 8.21milligrams per cubic meter, while samples taken from the breathing zone of employees in the lower-exposure group had a median value of 1.03 milligrams per cubic meter; both median values exceeded the threshold limit value for inhalable flour dust of 0.5 milligrams per cubic meter. Employees in the higher-exposure group were more likely than those in the lower-exposure group to report several work-related symptoms in the last 12 months. These symptoms included wheezing or whistling in the chest, sneezing, running nose or blocked nose without a cold, and running nose or blocked nose without a cold accompanied by itchy, water eyes. Employees in the higher-exposure group were nearly 2.5 times more likely than those in the lower-exposure group to be sensitized to flour dust and wheat. Employees who were allergic to flour dust, wheat, corn, or onion were more likely to report work-related asthma symptoms than those who did not have these allergies. HHE Program investigators recommended that plant managers use an enclosed system to transfer powdered ingredients to the dispensing hoppers and use local exhaust ventilation to lower flour dust levels. Starting a plant medical surveillance program was recommended as well as implementing a respiratory protection program until engineering controls and work practices can reduce exposures below the exposure limit for flour dust set by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.
Poultry-workers; Poultry-industry; Food-handlers; Food-processing; Food-processing-industry; Food-processing-workers; Bronchial-asthma; Respiratory-system-disorders; Allergens; Allergic-reactions; Allergies; Grain-dusts; Surveillance-programs; Author Keywords: poultry processing; flour dust; flour; wheat; soy; asthma; sensitization; poultry breading; spices
Field Studies; Hazard Evaluation and Technical Assistance
NTIS Accession No.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: May 5, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division