Occupational Asthma Reference

Sigsgaard T, Malmros P, Nersting L, Petersen C, Respiratory disorders and atopy in Danish refuse workers, Am J Respir Crit Care Med, 1994;149:1407-1412,

Keywords: oa, refuse, compost, ep, cross sectional, Copenhagen, microorganism, bacteria, endotoxin

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Torben Sigsgaard, University of Aarhus Torben Sigsgaard

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This survey describes respiratory and mucosal symptoms of garbage-handling and recycling workers in Denmark. The study includes 20 paper-sorting workers, eight compost workers, and 44 garbage-handling workers. As a control group, 119 workers from water purification plants of Copenhagen were chosen; workers in our study had a lower mean age and shorter mean employment time than did members of the control group. There was no significant difference in tobacco consumption between the groups. Garbage-handling workers were exposed to a significantly higher mean concentration (SD) of total dust than were water supply workers-0.74 (0.77) mg/m3 compared with 0.42 (0.25) mg/m3 (p < 0.05). Total count of microorganisms was significantly higher in garbage-handling and composting areas compared with paper-sorting as well as water supply areas 0.46 (0.125) x 10(5), 0.54 (0.77) x 10(5), 4.7 (5.89) x 10(3), and 0.08 (0.04) x 10(3) cfu/m3, respectively (p < 0.05). This difference could not be explained as an effect of differential growth requirements. Significantly higher amounts of gram-negative bacteria were found in composting and garbage-handling plants than in water-supply plants. In garbage-handling plants only, there were significantly higher amounts of endotoxins than in paper-sorting plants. Significantly higher prevalence of chest tightness (14%), flu-like symptoms (14%), itching eyes (27%), itching nose (14), and sore or itching throat (21%) were found among garbage-handling workers, compared with, respectively, 1, 1, 11 and 0% among water-supply workers. Furthermore, prevalence of nausea and vomiting or diarrhea rose from 2% and 7% among the water-supply workers to 19% and 27% among the garbage workers.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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