Airway inflammation: An occupational health risk in waste composting workers

I. Wouters, J. Douwes, G. Doekes, D. Heederik.


Occupational exposure to micro-organisms or their toxins may imply a new health risk in the waste handling and composting industry. To assess the relation between exposure and upper respiratory tract inflammation, repeated pre- and post shift nasal lavages (NAL) were performed in 15 compost workers and 9 controls. Mean personal dust and endotoxin exposures ranged from 0.00-1.77 mg/m3 and 17-1804 EU/m3, respectively. Serum IgG and lgE against molds were determined, and bronchial responsiveness in workers was assessed by metacholine provocation. A cross-shift increase in total cells and of cytokines IL6 and IL8 were observed in the NAL of workers while in controls a decrease was observed, presumably indicating a wash-out effect. Few workers (3) showed a weak IgE reaction with mold allergen. Four of the workers showed a positive IgG titer against Asp. fumigatus. Six of thirteen (46%) workers who performed the provocation test were bronchial hyper-responsive, defined as a decline in FEV1, of >15% after provocation (PD15: 1.20 mg), of whom 2 showed a decline in FEV1, of >20%. Results indicate that occupational exposure in compost workers causes an acute inflammatory reaction of the upper airways, and possibly in the deeper respiratory tract as well.

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7th European Respiratory Society Annual Conference
    • ERS 17th (2007)