Vegetable Growers' Exposure to Fungal Bioaerosols and Airborne Dust

A recently published article in the Annals of Occupational Hygiene describes
'Factors Affecting Vegetable Growers' Exposure to Fungal Bioaerosols and
Airborne Dust'. The authors quantified vegetable growers' exposure to fungal
bioaerosol components, total fungal spores, and culturable fungal units.
Furthermore, they have evaluated factors that might affect vegetable growers'
exposure to fungal bioaerosols and airborne dust. Investigated environments
included greenhouses producing cucumbers and tomatoes, open fields producing
cabbage, broccoli, and celery, and packing facilities. Measurements were
performed at different times during the growth season and during execution of
different work tasks.

They found that the factors (i) work task, (ii) crop, including growth stage of
handled plant material, and (iii) open field versus greenhouse significantly
affected the workers' exposure to bioaerosols. Packing of vegetables and
working in open fields caused significantly lower exposure to bioaerosols, e.g.
mesophilic fungi and dust, than harvesting in greenhouses and clearing of
senescent greenhouse plants. Also removing strings in cucumber greenhouses
caused a lower exposure to bioaerosols than harvest of cucumbers while removal
of old plants caused the highest exposure. In general, the exposure was higher
in greenhouses than in open fields. The exposures to ß-glucan during harvest
and clearing of senescent greenhouse plants were very high (median values
ranging between 50 and 1500 ng m-3) compared to exposures reported from other
occupational environments. In conclusion, vegetable growers' exposure to
bioaerosols was related to the environment, in which they worked, the
investigated work tasks, and the vegetable crop.

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AplusA-online.de - Source: The Annals of Occupational Hygiene