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Ann Occup Hyg. 2012 Aug;56(7):843-51. doi: 10.1093/annhyg/mes013. Epub 2012 Mar 16.

Assessment of swine worker exposures to dust and endotoxin during hog load-out and power washing.

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Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, The University of Iowa College of Public Health, 105 River Street, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


Field measurements of personal and area dust and endotoxin concentrations were obtained while agricultural workers performed two work tasks that have been previously unreported: hog load-out and swine building power washing. Hog load-out involves moving hogs from their pens in finishing buildings into a truck for transport to a meat processor. High pressure power washing is conducted for sanitation purposes after a building has been emptied of hogs to remove surface and floor debris. This debris consists of feed, feces, and hog dander as dust or an encrusted form. The hog load-out process necessarily increases pig activity which is known to increase airborne dust concentrations. An unintended consequence of power washing is that the material covering surfaces is forcibly ejected into the atmosphere, creating the potential for a highly concentrated aerosol exposure to workers. The load-out process resulted in a median personal inhalable mass concentration of 7.14 mg m(-) (3) and median endotoxin concentration of 12 150 endotoxin units (EU) m(-) (3). When converted to an 8-h time-weighted average for a 'total' sampler, one of the 19 samples exceeded a regulatory limit of 15 mg m(-) (3). An impinger was used to sample power washing endotoxin concentrations, which resulted in a median personal concentration of 40 350 EU m(-) (3). These concentrations were among the highest found in the literature for any occupation. With the lack of engineering controls present to reduce airborne contaminant concentrations in swine buildings, either respirator use or a reduction in exposure time is recommended while performing these tasks.

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