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Sensitisation to enzymes in the animal feed industry
  1. M Vanhanena,
  2. T Tuomia,
  3. U Tiikkainena,
  4. O Tupaselaa,
  5. A Tuomainenb,
  6. R Luukkonena,
  7. H Nordmana
  1. aFinnish Institute of Occupational Health, Topeliuksenkatu 41 aA, FIN-00250, Helsinki, Finland, bKuopio Regional Institute of Occupational Health, PO Box 93, FIN-70701, Kuopio, Finland
  1. Dr M Vanhanenmarkku.vanhanen{at}


OBJECTIVES To assess the prevalence of enzyme sensitisation in the animal feed industry.

METHODS A cross sectional study was conducted in four animal feed factories, where several enzymes had been used in powder form for 7–9 years. Before this study, enzymes in liquid form had started to be used. Sensitisation to enzymes was examined by skin prick and radioallergosorbent (RAST) tests. Altogether 218 workers were tested; 140 people in various tasks in manufacturing, where exposure to various organic dusts and to enzymes was possible, and 78 non-exposed office workers. The workers were interviewed for work related respiratory and skin symptoms. Total dust concentrations were measured by a gravimetric method. The concentrations of protease and α-amylase were measured with catalytic methods and that of xylanase with an immunological method.

RESULTS Ten workers (7%) were sensitised to enzymes in the exposed group of 140, whereas none were sensitised in the non-exposed group. Six of the sensitised people had respiratory symptoms at work: two of them especially in connection with exposure to enzymes. Enzyme concentrations in the air varied greatly: xylanase from less than 0.8 ng/m3 up to 16 ng/m3, α-amylase from less than 20 ng/m3 up to 200 ng/m3, and protease from less than 0.4 ng/m3up to 2900 ng/m3. On average, highest xylanase and α-amylase concentrations were found in the various manufacturing sites, whereas the highest protease concentrations were found in areas of high total dust.

CONCLUSIONS Industrial enzymes may cause allergies in the animal feed industry. There is a need to assess exposure to enzymes at various phases of production, and to minimise exposures.

  • animal feed
  • enzyme allergy
  • occupational exposure

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