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Exposures to thoracic particulate matter, endotoxin, and glucan during post-hurricane Katrina restoration work, New Orleans 2005-2012.

Rando-RJ; Kwon-C-W; Lefante-JJ
J Occup Environ Hyg 2014 Jan; 11(1):9-18
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the city of New Orleans in August 2005, restoration workers were at risk for respiratory illness from exposure to airborne particles and microbial agents. In support of an epidemiologic investigation of this risk, an exposure assessment for restoration work activities (demolition, trash & debris management, landscape restoration, sewer/waterline repair, and mold remediation) was performed from 2005 to 2012. For 2005 and 2006, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) data (n = 730) for personal and area monitoring of total and respirable dust exposures of restoration workers were accessed and analyzed. The most significant exposures were for demolition work, with average respirable dust exposures in 2005 above the action level of 2.5 mg/m3 and 17.6% of exposures exceeding the permissible exposure limit (PEL) (5 mg/m3). Additional personal and area monitoring for thoracic particulate matter was performed from 2007 to 2012 (n = 774) and samples were assayed for endotoxin and (1---> 3, 1---> 6)-ß-D-glucan (n = 202). In order to integrate the OSHA data with the later monitoring data, three independent predictive models were developed to convert total and respirable dust measures into the equivalent thoracic dust. The three models were not statistically different and the modeling results were in good agreement with an overall coefficient of variation of 16% for the thoracic dust means across work activities estimated by each of the three models. Overall, thoracic dust exposure levels decreased by about an order of magnitude within the first year after Katrina and then more gradually declined and stabilized through 2012. Estimated average exposures to endotoxin and microbial glucan in 2005 were as high as 256 EU/m3 and 118 µg/m3, respectively, and likewise were seen to decrease dramatically and stabilize after 2005. The results of this exposure assessment support previously published reports of respiratory illness including sinusitis, toxic pneumonitis, and Katrina Cough among restoration workers in the years immediately after the hurricane.
Respiratory-system-disorders; Environmental-contamination; Air-contamination; Airborne-particles; Particulates; Endotoxins; Employee-exposure; Employee-health; Exposure-assessment; Thorax; Microorganisms; Epidemiology; Demolition-industry; Molds; Respirable-dust; Emergency-response; Hazardous-materials; Hazardous-waste-cleanup; Medical-monitoring; Exposure-levels; Exposure-limits; Analytical-models; Dust-exposure; Author Keywords: floods; endotoxin; glucan; thoracic particles; exposure assessment
Roy J. Rando, Department of Global Environmental Health Sciences, Tulane School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine, 1440 Canal St., New Orleans, LA 70112
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Grant-Number-R01-OH-008938; M122013
Issue of Publication
Source Name
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
Performing Organization
Tulane University of Louisiana
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division