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J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2013;76(4-5):230-9. doi: 10.1080/15287394.2013.757199.

Occupational exposure to poultry dust and effects on the respiratory system in workers.

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  • 1Higher School of Health Technology, Lisboa/Polytechnic Institute of Lisbon, Lisboa, Portugal.


Farmers are occupationally exposed to many respiratory hazards at work and display higher rates of asthma and respiratory symptoms than other workers. Dust is one of the components present in poultry production that increases risk of adverse respiratory disease occurrence. Dust originates from poultry residues, molds, and feathers and is biologically active as it contains microorganisms. Exposure to dust is known to produce a variety of clinical responses, including asthma, chronic bronchitis, chronic airways obstructive disease (COPD), allergic alveolitis, and organic dust toxic syndrome (ODTS). A study was developed to determine particle contamination in seven poultry farms and correlate this with prevalence rate of respiratory defects and record by means of a questionnaire the presence of clinical symptoms associated with asthma and other allergy diseases by European Community Respiratory Health Survey. Poultry farm dust contamination was found to contain higher concentrations of particulate matter (PM) PM5 and PM10. Prevalence rate of obstructive pulmonary disorders was higher in individuals with longer exposure regardless of smoking status. In addition, a high prevalence for asthmatic (42.5%) and nasal (51.1%) symptoms was noted in poultry workers. Data thus show that poultry farm workers are more prone to suffer from respiratory ailments and this may be attributed to higher concentrations of PM found in the dust. Intervention programs aimed at reducing exposure to dust will ameliorate occupational working conditions and enhance the health of workers.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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