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Assessment of bioaerosols and inhalable dust exposure in Swiss sawmills
Annals of Occupational Hygiene
An assessment of wood workers' exposure to airborne cultivable bacteria, fungi, inhalable endotoxins and inhalable organic dust was performed at 12 sawmills that process mainly coniferous wood species. In each plant, samples were collected at four or five different work sites (debarking, sawing, sorting, planing and sawing cockpit) and the efficiency of sampling devices (impinger or filter) for determining endotoxins levels was evaluated. Results show that fungi are present in very high concentrations (up to 35 000 CFU m(-3)) in all sawmills. We also find that there are more bioaerosols at the sorting work site (mean +/- SD: 7723 +/- 9919 CFU m(-3) for total bacteria, 614 +/- 902 CFU m(-3) for Gram-negative, 19 438 +/- 14 246 CFU m(-3) for fungi, 7.0 +/- 9.0 EU m(-3) for endotoxin and 2.9 +/- 4.8 g m(-3) for dust) than at the sawing station (mean +/- SD: 1938 +/- 2478 CFU m(-3) for total bacteria, 141 +/- 206 CFU m(-3) for Gram-negative, 12 207 +/- 10 008 CFU m(-3) for fungi, 2.1 +/- 1.9 EU m(-3) for endotoxin and 0.75 +/- 0.49 mg m(-3) for dust). At the same time, the species composition and concentration of airborne Gram-negative bacteria were studied. Penicillinium sp. were the predominant fungi, while Bacillus sp. and the Pseudomonadacea family were the predominant Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria encountered, respectively. [Authors]
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