Airborne endotoxin associated with particles of different sizes and affected by water content in handled straw

Tidsskriftartikel - 2010


High exposures to endotoxin are observed in environments where organic materials are handled and lower exposures are found in e.g. indoor air. Inhaled endotoxin contributes significantly to the induction of airway inflammation and dysfunction. The size of an inhaled particle influences the deposition in the airways and the following health symptoms. The objective is to characterise the distribution of endotoxin on airborne particles of different sizes in straw storage halls with high exposure and in other environments with lower exposure levels to endotoxin. Furthermore we have studied the influence of water content of handled straw on the size distribution of endotoxin containing particles. Total, inhalable, thoracic and respirable endotoxin and particles have each been quantified in aerosols from boiler rooms and straw storage halls at 24 power plants, including 21 biofuel plants. Inhalable, thoracic and respirable endotoxin have been quantified in aerosols from offices and outdoor air. The endotoxin concentration was higher in airborne thoracic dust than in airborne 'total dust'. The median respirable fraction in the straw storage halls, boiler rooms at biofuel plants, boiler rooms at conventional plants, offices and outdoors was respectively 42%, 9%, 19%, 24% and 34%. Thoracic endotoxin per number of thoracic particles was higher than respirable endotoxin per number of respirable particles at the biofuel plants. In straw storage halls the fraction of endotoxin of respirable size was highest on the days with lowest water content in the received straw. Furthermore the exposures to all endotoxin fractions were highest on days with the lowest water content in the received straw. In conclusion the highest exposures and concentrations of endotoxin occur or tend to occur from thoracic dust. A high variation in endotoxin concentrations and in fractions of respirable or thoracic size is found in the different working areas. This is important in the risk assessment and makes attempts to influence the endotoxin exposure a possibility. Water content in straw affected the concentration, exposure level and size distribution of airborne endotoxin.


Madsen AM, Nielsen SH. Airborne endotoxin associated with particles of different sizes and affected by water content in handled straw. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health 2010;213(4):278-284.
doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2010.03.001

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