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Am Ind Hyg Assoc J. 1998 May;59(5):313-20.

Determinants of wheat antigen and fungal alpha-amylase exposure in bakeries.

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University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


The study's objectives were to measure flour antigen exposure in bakeries and define the determinants of exposure. Ninety-six bakery workers, employed in seven different bakeries, participated in the study. Two side-by-side full-shift inhalable dust samples were obtained from each study participant on a single occasion. The flour antigen exposure was measured as wheat antigen and fungal alpha-amylase content of the water-soluble fraction of inhalable dust, assayed via enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. During the entire sampling period bakers were observed and information on 14 different tasks was recorded at 15-minute intervals. Other production characteristics were also recorded for each sampling day and used in statistical modeling to identify significant predictors of exposure. The mean alpha-amylase antigen exposure was 22.0 ng/m3 (ranging from below the limit of detection of 0.1 ng/m3 to 307.1 ng/m3) and the mean wheat antigen exposure was 109 micrograms/m3 (ranging from below the limit of detection of 1 microgram/m3 to 1018 micrograms/m3). Regression models that explained 74% of variability in wheat antigen and alpha-amylase antigen exposures were constructed. The models indicated that tasks such as weighing, pouring, and operating dough-brakers increased flour antigen exposure, while packing and decorating resulted in lower exposures. Croissant, puff-pastry, and bread/bun production lines were associated with increased exposure, while cake production and substitution of dusting with the use of divider oil were associated with decreased exposure. Exposure levels can be reduced by the automation of forming tasks, alteration of tasks requiring pouring of flour, and changes to the types of products manufactured.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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