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Respirable dust and crystalline silica (quartz) exposure resulting from potato harvesting operations.

Berberet LJ; Buchan R; Beard M; Kullman G
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 9-15, 1998, Atlanta, Georgia. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 1998 May; :51-52
Occupational exposure to silica dust has historically been known to cause chronic respiratory conditions. Workers and workplaces within agricultural industries remain removed from the attention of occupational health and safety. To date, the identification and degree of exposure of respirable dust, crystalline silica, and endotoxins exposure throughout the potato harvesting process has been uncharacterized. A description of the potential occupational risks in this setting was therefore warranted. The agricultural practices specific to potato harvest, the geographic region, and the soil of San Luis Valley, are believed to contribute to an occupational risk. The purpose of this research was to identify the components of dust during the fall potato harvest in the San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado. The testing sites were located within three counties of this valley, including seven farming locations. The farm sites were chosen based on their location, variable soil types, and owner interest. The following parameters were measured: respirable dust and respirable silica by the 10 mm cyclone; bacterial endotoxin (EU/m3) by Limulus amoebocyte lysate test; and scanning electron microscopy for particle identification purposes. All exposures were based on an 8-hour time-weighted average. Exposure impact included the following variables: location of the farming site, soil type (sand, rock, loam), individual job description, weather conditions (wind, rain, wet or dry soil during harvesting operations), humidity, and temperature. Results of air monitoring, and the identification, classification, and quantification of agricultural worker exposure to these risks have been reported with a maximum respirable silica (quartz) of 0.105 mg/m3 identified, slightly exceeding the ACGIH TLV of 0.10 mg/m3. This information will allow emp]oyers to recognize where silica dust is generated and allow for planning and control implementation to adequately protect workers.
Agricultural-industry; Agricultural-processes; Agricultural-workers; Agriculture; Farmers; Silica-dusts; Respirable-dust; Endotoxins; Dust-inhalation; Dust-measurement; Dust-particles; Dust-sampling; Dusts; Exposure-levels; Exposure-limits; Exposure-assessment; Respiratory-irritants; Risk-analysis; Risk-factors; Soil-analysis; Soil-bacteria; Time-weighted-average-exposure; Analytical-instruments; Analytical-processes; Air-quality-monitoring; Environmental-factors
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American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 9-15, 1998, Atlanta, Georgia
Page last reviewed: April 1, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division