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Eur Respir J. 2003 Apr;21(4):641-5.

Airway inflammation in waste handlers exposed to bioaerosols assessed by induced sputum.

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National Institute of Occupational Health, Oslo, Norway.


Work-associated lower airway inflammation in waste collectors was examined by induced sputum and correlated with the bioaerosol exposure. Organic waste collectors (n=25) underwent induced sputum collection and spirometry before work on Monday and the following Thursday. Total cells, cell differentials, interleukin (IL)-8 and eosinophilic cationic protein were determined. Personal full-shift exposure measurements were performed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and analysed for total bacteria, fungal spores, endotoxins and beta(1-3)-glucans. The percentage of neutrophils (46-58%) and the IL-8 concentration (1.1-1.4 ng x mL(-1)) increased from Monday to Thursday. Forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) was significantly reduced on Thursday, and the decrease in FEV1/forced vital capacity correlated with the increase in the percentage of neutrophils. The median exposure to endotoxin (range 7-180 EU x m(-3)) and beta(1-3)-glucan (range 5-220 ng x m(-3)) was correlated with the increase in IL-8. Bioaerosol exposure during waste collection induced an inflammatory response in the lower airways, characterised by neutrophils and interleukin-8 secretion, that influenced the lung function. The inflammatory response was related to microbial components in the bioaerosol and was more pronounced for endotoxin than beta(1-3)-glucan exposure. No associations were found for mould spores or bacteria.

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