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Am J Ind Med. 2017 Mar;60(3):255-263. doi: 10.1002/ajim.22680.

Pulmonary function and airway inflammation among dairy parlor workers after exposure to inhalable aerosols.

Author information

  • 1Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.
  • 2Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences, Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Healt, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health, San Antonio, Texas.
  • 3Department of Occupational Health Sciences, UT Health Northeast, Tyler, Texas.
  • 4Department of Cellular and Molecular Biology, UT Health Northeast, Tyler, Texas.
  • 5Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado.
  • 63M Purification, Inc., Stafford Springs, Connecticut.
  • 7Liberty Mutual Insurance, Portland, Oregon.



Inhalation exposure to organic dust causes lung inflammation among agricultural workers. Due to changes in production and work organization, task-based inhalation exposure data, including novel lung inflammation biomarkers, will inform exposure recommendations for dairy farm workers.


Linear regression was used to estimate the associations of airborne exposure to dust concentration, endotoxin, and muramic acid with pulmonary outcomes (i.e., FEV1 , exhaled nitric oxide). Logistic regression was used to estimate associations with self-reported pulmonary symptoms.


Mean exposure concentration to inhalable dust, endotoxin, and muramic acid were 0.55 mg/m3 , 118 EU/m3 , and 3.6 mg/m3 , respectively. We found cross-shift differences for exhaled nitric oxide (P = 0.005) and self-reported pulmonary symptoms (P = 0.008) but no association of exposure with respiratory outcomes.


Inhalation exposures during parlor tasks, which were lower than previously reported and were not associated with cross-shift measures of pulmonary health among dairy workers. Modern milking parlor designs may be contributing to lower inhalation exposure. Am. J. Ind. Med. 60:255-263, 2017. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


aerosol; agriculture; dairy; endotoxin; exhaled nitric oxide; inhalation exposure; muramic acid; worker

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