The relation between bioaerosol exposure in the potato starch industry and work related respiratory symptoms is described. One group of workers was exposed to high dust concentrations (geometric mean up to 56.0 mg/m3) with low endotoxin and antigen concentrations (geometric mean up to 12.6 ng/m3 and 90 relative antigen units (RAU) per m3). A second group was exposed to low dust concentrations (geometric mean up to 3.9 mg/m3), but the endotoxin and antigen concentrations were high (geometric means of environmental samples up to 72 ng/m3 and 2.9.10(2)RAU/m3). Twenty of the 48 workers had specific IgG4 titres to dust extract. Of these 20 workers, 14 showed an increase in IgG4 titre during the first month of the potato processing season. No specific IgE antibodies to dust extracts were found. Twenty two workers were equipped with a Mini-Wright peak flow meter during a four week period. Two workers showed a work related decline in peak flow values. It was concluded that exposure to dust made airborne during the refining process of potato starch may cause work related respiratory symptoms.
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