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Sci Total Environ. 2010 Mar 1;408(7):1659-66. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2010.01.009. Epub 2010 Jan 25.

Bacterial-based additives for the production of artificial snow: what are the risks to human health?

Author information

1
Agence Française de Sécurité Sanitaire de l'Environnement et du Travail, avenue du Général Leclerc, Maisons-Alfort, France.

Abstract

For around two decades, artificial snow has been used by numerous winter sports resorts to ensure good snow cover at low altitude areas or more generally, to lengthen the skiing season. Biological additives derived from certain bacteria are regularly used to make artificial snow. However, the use of these additives has raised doubts concerning the potential impact on human health and the environment. In this context, the French health authorities have requested the French Agency for Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (Afsset) to assess the health risks resulting from the use of such additives. The health risk assessment was based on a review of the scientific literature, supplemented by professional consultations and expertise. Biological or chemical hazards from additives derived from the ice nucleation active bacterium Pseudomonas syringae were characterised. Potential health hazards to humans were considered in terms of infectious, toxic and allergenic capacities with respect to human populations liable to be exposed and the means of possible exposure. Taking into account these data, a qualitative risk assessment was carried out, according to four exposure scenarios, involving the different populations exposed, and the conditions and routes of exposure. It was concluded that certain health risks can exist for specific categories of professional workers (mainly snowmakers during additive mixing and dilution tank cleaning steps, with risks estimated to be negligible to low if workers comply with safety precautions). P. syringae does not present any pathogenic capacity to humans and that the level of its endotoxins found in artificial snow do not represent a danger beyond that of exposure to P. syringae endotoxins naturally present in snow. However, the risk of possible allergy in some particularly sensitive individuals cannot be excluded. Another important conclusion of this study concerns use of poor microbiological water quality to make artificial snow.

PMID:
20097407
DOI:
10.1016/j.scitotenv.2010.01.009
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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