Measures to reduce the exposure of waste collection workers to handborne and airborne microorganisms and inflammogenic dust

Tidsskriftartikel - 2020

Resume

Waste collection is associated with various health symptoms. The aims of this study were to obtain knowledge about exposure to bacteria, fungi, and endotoxin during waste collection, and to study whether it is possible to reduce the exposures and the total inflammatory potential (TIP) of those exposures through simple interventions. The study was performed with an initial baseline exposure assessment, a second assessment with intervention workers only, and a third with intervention and reference workers. The waste collection workers were exposed to 7.8 × 103 cfu bacteria/m3, 1.4 × 104 cfu fungi/m3, and 92 endotoxin units/m3 (geometric mean values). The potential exposures in the truck cabs were up to 23 times higher than outdoor reference concentrations. For the intervention trucks and workers, airborne fungi in the truck cab were reduced; fungi, bacteria, and yeasts on the steering wheels were reduced; and the concentration of fungi on the workers' hands was reduced. Exposures were typically highest during collection of mixed household waste, in the summer, and for collection using trucks with low loading height. The TIP was highest for the reference group sampling mixed household waste, using trucks with low loading height, in the summer. Endotoxin, bacteria, and fungi contributed to the TIP of 42 personal exposure assessments. CONCLUSION: Motivating workers to reduce exposure through simple interventions improved hand and truck cab hygiene, but only slightly reduced personal exposure to airborne bioaerosols. Exposure can be reduced by only using trucks with high loading height.

Reference

Madsen AM, Frederiksen MW, Bjerregaard M, Tendal K. Measures to reduce the exposure of waste collection workers to handborne and airborne microorganisms and inflammogenic dust. Waste Management 2020;101:241-249.
doi: 10.1016/j.wasman.2019.10.023

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