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Chest. 1990 Aug;98(2):398-404.

Evaluation of occupational asthma from airborne egg protein exposure in multiple settings.

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  • 1Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio.


We previously reported IgE-mediated occupational asthma among workers exposed to airborne egg protein at a plant that produces liquid and dried powdered egg products. To demonstrate that our original observations are generalizable to other facilities that process eggs, and to estimate the prevalence of IgE-mediated occupational asthma among egg-exposed workers, we conducted surveys at two additional plants. We administered a questionnaire to 188 employees to identify workers with symptoms suggestive of occupational asthma. We further evaluated 88 workers with and without symptoms by a clinical examination by a physician blinded to results of other tests, serial peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) determinations every three hours while awake for one week, and skin prick tests and serum specific IgE levels to extracts of factory egg products, commercial egg test reagents, and egg white protein fractions. Fourteen workers had work-related asthmalike symptoms by questionnaire, a physician diagnosis of occupational asthma, and evidence of IgE-mediated sensitization to one or more egg proteins. Workers exposed exclusively to liquid egg aerosol, as well as workers exposed primarily to dried airborne egg protein, developed occupational asthma. This study replicated our original observations and demonstrated that workers in all areas of liquid and powdered egg production are at risk of developing occupational asthma from exposure to airborne egg proteins.

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