A characterization of bioaerosols in biowaste pretreatment plants in relation to occupational health

Tidsskriftartikel - 2021


Occupational exposure to microorganisms can be associated with adverse health outcomes. In this study, we assessed exposure to bioaerosols in two biowaste pretreatment plants in Denmark, which differed in location (city or countryside) and how they were built (‘closed-off processes’ or ‘open processes’). Bioaerosol exposures were characterized by microbial concentrations in personal, stationary, sedimented dust, and hand samples, and their size distribution was assessed. Furthermore, species were identified by matrix-assisted laser desorption-ionisation time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS), and inhalable dust, endotoxin, biofilm production, the total inflammatory potential, and fungicide resistance to four fungicides (amphotericin B, caspofungin acetate, itraconazole, voriconazole) were determined. Bacterial and fungal concentrations were on average (GM) in the order of 104 cfu/m3, but ranged from 102 to 108 cfu/m3. Several species which may cause health problems were identified. Personal endotoxin exposures were on average 28 EU/m3, but both personal and stationary samples ranged from 0.6 to 2035 EU/m3. Bioaerosols had the potential to form biofilms and to induce inflammation as measured in a human cell line. Exposures were higher in the plants that outdoor reference values. Higher exposures were found in the ‘open process’ plant, such as in microbial concentrations, species richness, endotoxin, biofilm production, and the total inflammatory potential. Six out of 28 tested Aspergillus fumigatus isolates were resistant to fungicides (amphotericin B and voriconazole). In conclusion, there is a high exposure to bioaerosols during work in biowaste pretreatment plants, however, results also suggests that how the plant is built and functions may affect the exposures.


Rasmussen PU, Phan HU, Frederiksen MW, Madsen AM. A characterization of bioaerosols in biowaste pretreatment plants in relation to occupational health. Waste Management 2021;131:237-248.
doi: 10.1016/j.wasman.2021.06.009

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