Occupational Asthma Reference

Meijster T, Tielemans E, Schinkel J, Heederik D, Evaluation of Peak Exposures in the Dutch Flour Processing Industry: Implications for Intervention Strategies, Ann Occup Hyg, 2008;52:587-596,

Keywords: baker, control, exposure measurement, peak exposure

Known Authors

Dick Heederik, Institute of Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht Dick Heederik

Tim Meijster, Tim Meijster

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To effectively decrease occupational exposure to flour dust and related allergens, detailed information on exposure determinants and effectiveness of control measures is essential. In this paper, we use personal real-time exposure measurements to get more insight into the relationship between specific work characteristics, including the use of control measures, and (peak) exposure to flour dust. The study has three objectives: (i) identify tasks and activities related to peak exposure, (ii) identify control measures and other important exposure determinants and (iii) assess the potential impact of these control measures on the (peak) exposure to flour dust.

A data set containing 82 real-time exposure measurements in combination with information from detailed observations was used to study the association between peak exposures and different tasks, activities and other determinants such as control measures. Descriptive statistics of peak exposure on job level were generated as well as information on contribution of task-specific peak exposures to time-weighted average (TWA) exposure levels. Finally, we evaluated the efficacy of a variety of control measures on task exposure by comparing exposure levels of groups of workers with and without controls.

In workers included in this study, >75% of TWA exposure is directly associated with peak exposures during a limited set of well-defined tasks/activities. The impact of a single task on population TWA exposure is generally limited (<40%). Worker behavior seems an important determinant in effective exposure control for many tasks.

Data from real-time measurements provide important detailed information with respect to exposure determinants and control measures, not obtainable from conventional measurement studies focusing at TWA exposure. This information is essential to perform prospective impact assessments of intervention strategies on the populations’ exposure distribution.

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