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Industrial composting is a relatively new and expanding activity. Several studies indicate that compost workers are at risk to develop health symptoms. The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of work-related health symptoms among compost workers compared with control subjects.
A questionnaire was distributed among 62 workers (31 exposed and 31 non-exposed workers). Data were analyzed using simple and multiple logistic regression analyses.
Workers exposed to organic dust reported significantly more often respiratory, irritation (e.g., eyes, nose and throat), gastrointestinal, and skin symptoms than the non-exposed group. Moreover, all work-related symptoms were significantly more often reported by exposed than non-exposed workers. After adjustment for smoking status and age, the associations between exposure and respiratory, gastrointestinal, and skin symptoms remained statistically significant, in particular if these symptoms were work-related.
This study confirms that workers at compost facilities are at risk to develop occupational health problems, most likely related to organic dust exposure.