Dust accumulation on surfaces of critical instruments has been a major concern during lunar and Mars missions. Operation of instruments such as solar panels, chromatic calibration targets, as well as Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA) suits has been severely compromised in the past as a result of dust accumulation and adhesion. Wind storms with wind speeds of up to 70 mph have not been effective in removing significant amounts of the deposited dust. This is indeed an indication of the strength of the adhesion force(s) involved between the dust particles and the surface(s) that they have adhered to. Complications associated with dust accumulation are more severe for non-conducting surfaces and have been the focus of this work.
Argon plasma treatment was investigated as a mechanism for lowering dust accumulation on non-conducting polymeric surfaces. Polymers chosen for this study include a popular variety of silicones routinely used for space and terrestrial applications namely RTV 655, RTV 615, and Sylgard 184. Surface properties including wettability, surface potential, and surface charge density were compared before and after plasma treatment and under different storage conditions. Effect of ultraviolet radiation on RTV 655 was also investigated and compared with the effect of Ar plasma treatment.
Gravimetric measurements proved Ar plasma treatment to be an effective method for eliminating dust adhesion to all three polymers after short periods of exposure. No physical damage was detected on any of the polymer surfaces after Ar plasma treatment. The surface potential of all three polymers remained zero up to three months post plasma exposure. Ultraviolet radiation however was not effective in reducing surface and caused damage and significant discoloration to RTV 655. Therefore, Ar plasma treatment can be an effective and non-destructive method for treating insulating polymeric surfaces in order to eliminate dust adhesion and accumulation.
Specimens were repeatedly obtained for mycological examination from the skin, throat, urine, and feces of the six astronauts who conducted the Apollo 14 and Apollo 15 lunar exploration missions. Analysis of preflight data demonstrates that the process of severely restricting opportunities from colonization for 3 weeks before flight resulted in a 50% reduction in the number of isolated species. Postflight data indicate that exposure to the space flight environment for up to 2 weeks resulted in an even greater reduction with a relative increase in the potential pathogen Candida albicans. No incidences of microbial shock were observed when crewmembers were quarantined for 16 days after completion of the space flight. Intercrew transfer of particular species could not be demonstrated because most species were not consistently recovered.
Microbiological profiles were determined for surfaces of the command module, lunar module (ascent and descent stages), instrument unit, Saturn S-4B stage, and the spacecraft lunar module adapter of the Apollo 10 and 11 spacecraft. Average levels of contamination of the command module were 2.1 × 104 and 2.7 × 104 microorganisms per ft2 for Apollo 10 and 11, respectively. With the exception of the exterior surfaces of the ascent stage of the lunar module and the interior surfaces of the command module, average levels of microbial contamination on all components of the Apollo 11 were found to be lower than those observed on Apollo 10. For each Apollo mission, approximately 2,000 colonies were picked from a variety of media and identified. The results showed that approximately 95% of all isolates were those considered indigenous to humans; the remaining were associated with soil and dust in the environment. However, the ratio of these two general groups varied depending on the degrees of personnel density and environmental control associated with each module.
Exposure to endotoxin in home environments has become a key issue in asthma and allergy research. Most studies have analyzed floor or mattress dust endotoxin, but its validity as a proxy for airborne exposure is unknown, while active airborne dust sampling is not feasible in large-scale population studies because of logistic and financial limitations. We therefore developed and evaluated a simple passive airborne dust collection method for airborne endotoxin exposure assessment. We explored an electrostatic dust fall collector (EDC), consisting of a 42- by 29.6-cm-sized folder with four electrostatic cloths exposed to the air. The EDC was tested during two 14-day periods in seven nonfarm and nine farm homes and in farm stables. In parallel, active airborne dust sampling was performed with Harvard impactors and floor dust collected by vacuuming, using nylon sampling socks. The endotoxin levels could be measured in all EDC cloth extracts. The levels (in EU/m2) between EDCs used simultaneously or in different sampling periods in the same home correlated strongly (r > 0.8). EDC endotoxin also correlated moderately to strongly (r = 0.6 to 0.8) with the endotoxin measured by active airborne dust sampling and living room floor dust sampling and—in farm homes—with the endotoxin captured by the EDC in stables. In contrast, endotoxin levels measured by floor dust sampling showed only a poor correlation with the levels measured by active airborne dust sampling. We therefore conclude that measuring endotoxin levels with the EDC is a valid measure of average airborne endotoxin exposure, while reproducibility over time is at least equivalent to that of reservoir dust analyses.
Astronauts on a mission to Mars would be exposed for up to 3 years to galactic cosmic rays (GCR) — made up of high-energy protons and high charge (Z) and energy (E) (HZE) nuclei. GCR exposure rate increases about three times as spacecraft venture out of Earth orbit into deep space where protection of the Earth's magnetosphere and solid body are lost. NASA's radiation standard limits astronaut exposures to a 3% risk of exposure induced death (REID) at the upper 95% confidence interval (CI) of the risk estimate. Fatal cancer risk has been considered the dominant risk for GCR, however recent epidemiological analysis of radiation risks for circulatory diseases allow for predictions of REID for circulatory diseases to be included with cancer risk predictions for space missions. Using NASA's models of risks and uncertainties, we predicted that central estimates for radiation induced mortality and morbidity could exceed 5% and 10% with upper 95% CI near 10% and 20%, respectively for a Mars mission. Additional risks to the central nervous system (CNS) and qualitative differences in the biological effects of GCR compared to terrestrial radiation may significantly increase these estimates, and will require new knowledge to evaluate.
Asian dust storms can be transported across eastern Asia. In vitro, Asian dust particle-induced inflammation and enhancement of the allergic reaction have been observed. However, the fibrotic effects of Asian dust particles are not clear. Production of transforming growth factor β1 (TGF-β1) and fibronectin were investigated in the bronchial epithelial cells after exposure to Asian dust particulate matter (AD-PM10).
During Asian dust storm periods, air samples were collected. The bronchial epithelial cells were exposed to AD-PM10 with and without the antioxidant, N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC). Then TGF-β1 and fibronectin were detected by Western blotting. The reactive oxygen species (ROS) was detected by the measurement of dicholorodihydrofluorescin (DCF), using a FACScan, and visualized by a confocal microscopy.
The expression of TGF-β1, fibronectin and ROS was high after being exposed to AD-PM10, compared to the control. NAC attenuated both TGF-β1 and fibronectin expression in the AD-PM10-exposed the bronchial epithelial cells.
AD-PM10 may have fibrotic potential in the bronchial epithelial cells and the possible mechanism is AD-PM10-induced intracellular ROS.
Air Pollutants; Reactive Oxygen Species; Transforming Growth Factor β
Selected surfaces from the Command Module, Lunar Module (ascent and descent stages), Instrument Unit, Saturn S-4B engine, and Spacecraft Lunar Module Adapter comprised the various components of four Apollo spacecraft which were assayed quantitatively and qualitatively for microorganisms. In addition, the first Lunar Roving Vehicle was assayed. Average levels of microbial contamination (104 per square foot of surface) on the Command Module, Instrument Unit, and Saturn S-4B engine were relatively consistent among spacecraft. The first postflight sampling of interior surfaces of the Command Module was possible due to elimination of the 21-day back-contamination quarantine period. Results of the pre- and postflight samples revealed increases in the postflight samples of 3 logs/inch2. A total of 5,862 microbial isolates was identified; 183 and 327 were obtained from the Command Module at preflight and postflight sampling periods, respectively. Although the results showed that the majority of microorganisms isolated were those considered to be indigenous to humans, an increase in organisms associated with soil and dust was noted with each successive Apollo spacecraft.
With the advent of nanotechnology, the prospects for using engineered nanomaterials with diameters of < 100 nm in industrial applications, medical imaging, disease diagnoses, drug delivery, cancer treatment, gene therapy, and other areas have progressed rapidly. The potential for nanoparticles (NPs) in these areas is infinite, with novel new applications constantly being explored. The possible toxic health effects of these NPs associated with human exposure are unknown. Many fine particles generally considered “nuisance dusts” are likely to acquire unique surface properties when engineered to nanosize and may exhibit toxic biological effects. Consequently, the nuisance dust may be transported to distant sites and could induce adverse health effects. In addition the beneficial uses of NPs in drug delivery, cancer treatment, and gene therapy may cause unintentional human exposure. Because of our lack of knowledge about the health effects associated with NP exposure, we have an ethical duty to take precautionary measures regarding their use. In this review we highlight the possible toxic human health effects that can result from exposure to ultrafine particles (UFPs) generated by anthropogenic activities and their cardiopulmonary outcomes. The comparability of engineered NPs to UFPs suggests that the human health effects are likely to be similar. Therefore, it is prudent to elucidate their toxicologic effect to minimize occupational and environmental exposure. Highlighting the human health outcomes caused by UFPs is not intended to give a lesser importance to either the unprecedented technologic and industrial rewards of the nanotechnology or their beneficial human uses.
cons; nanoparticle toxicity; nanotechnology; pros
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are vital regulators of many cellular functions in the body. The intracellular ROS concentration is highly regulated by a balance between pro-oxidants and anti-oxidants. A chronic excess of pro-oxidants leads to elevated ROS concentrations and inflammation, possibly initiating or enhancing disease onset. Mineral-induced generation of ROS, the role of minerals in upregulating cellular ROS, and their role in the development of several occupational diseases are now widely recognized. However, there is no standard protocol to determine changes in ROS production in cells after exposure to mineral dust or earth materials in general. In this study, a new method for determining the degree of cellular toxicity (i.e., cytotoxicity) of particles is described that will help bridge the gap in knowledge.
By measuring the production of ROS and the viability of cells, an inflammatory stress response (ISR) indicator is defined. This approach normalizes the ROS upregulation with respect to the number of viable cells at the time of measurement. We conducted experiments on a series of minerals and soils that represent materials that are inert (i.e., glass beads, anatase, and a soil with low trace element content), moderately reactive (i.e., soil with high trace element content), and highly reactive (i.e., pyrite). Inert materials generated the lowest ISR, averaging 350% compared to the control. Acid washed pyrite produced the highest ISR (1,100 fold higher than the control). The measurements conducted as a function of time showed a complex response. Most materials showed an increase in ISR with particle loading.
The amount of cellularly generated ROS and cell viability combined provide a better understanding of particle-induced oxidative stress. The results indicate that some earth materials may solicit an initial burst of ROS, followed by a second phase in which cell viability decreases and ROS production increases, leading to a high ISR value. Hence, measurements conducted over a range of particle loading combined with multiple data measurements up to 24 hours can provide new insights in the possible effect of exposure to earth materials on human health.
Low molecular weight siloxanes are used in industrial processes and consumer products, and their vapors have been detected in the atmospheres of the Space Shuttle and International Space Station. Therefore, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) developed spacecraft maximum allowable concentrations (SMACs) for siloxane vapors to protect astronaut health. Since publication of these original SMACs, new studies and new risk assessment approaches have been published that warrant re-examination of the SMACs.
To reevaluate SMACs published for octamethyltrisiloxane (L3) for exposures ranging from 1 hour to 180 days, to develop a 1000-day SMAC, and to expand the applicability of those values to the family of linear siloxanes.
A literature review was conducted to identify studies conducted since the SMACs for L3 were set in 1994. The updated data were reviewed to determine the sensitive toxicity endpoints, and current risk assessment approaches and methods for dosimetric adjustments were evaluated.
Recent data were used to update the original 1-hour, 24-hour, 30-day, and 180-day SMACs for L3, and a 1000-day SMAC was developed to protect crewmembers during future exploration beyond Earth orbit. Group SMACs for the linear siloxane family, including hexamethyldisiloxane (L2), L3, decamethyltetrasiloxane (L4), and dodecamethylpentasiloxane (L5), were set for exposures of 1-hour to 1000 days.
New SMACs, based on acute pulmonary and neurotoxicity at high doses only achievable with L2 and potential liver effects following longer-term exposures to L2 and L3, were established to protect crewmembers from the adverse effects of exposure to linear siloxanes.
Inhalation; siloxane; spaceflight
Curiosity has driven humankind to explore and conquer space. However, today, space research is not a means to relieve this curiosity anymore, but instead has turned into a need. To support the crew in distant expeditions, supplies should either be delivered from the Earth, or prepared for short durations through physiochemical methods aboard the space station. Thus, research continues to devise reliable regenerative systems. Biological life support systems may be the only answer to human autonomy in outposts beyond Earth. For construction of an artificial extraterrestrial ecosystem, it is necessary to search for highly adaptable super-organisms capable of growth in harsh space environments. Indeed, a number of organisms have been proposed for cultivation in space. Meanwhile, some manipulations can be done to increase their photosynthetic potential and stress tolerance. Genetic manipulation and screening of plants, microalgae and cyanobacteria is currently a fascinating topic in space bioengineering. In this commentary, we will provide a viewpoint on the realities, limitations and promises in designing biological life support system based on engineered and/or selected green organism. Special focus will be devoted to the engineering of key photosynthetic enzymes in pioneer green organisms and their potential use in establishment of transgenic photobioreactors in space.
astrobiology; extreme environment; Mars; microalgae; photobioreactor; photosynthetic enzyme; plant; Rubisco
Microscopic dust sampling was done to determine the amount of dust in the homes of six patients who were sensitive to house dust and who had allergic disease that was intractable to treatment. One case was subsequently excluded from the study because of extraordinary circumstances. The remaining five cases were studied with repeated dust counts before and after a water-and-oil emulsion was sprayed in the patient's bedroom to immobilize house dust. In all five cases, the patients had dramatic relief of symptoms after the spraying was done. In four out of five, there was concomitant reduction of the amount of dust in the air as determined by microscopic counting of the dust particles on a glycerincoated slide. In the fifth case, relief of symptoms was not accompanied by reduction of dust on slides, but investigation revealed an error in control of exposure of the slides.
The thermo-mechanical properties of planetary surface and subsurface layers control to a high extent in which way a body interacts with its environment, in particular how it responds to solar irradiation and how it interacts with a potentially existing atmosphere. Furthermore, if the natural temperature profile over a certain depth can be measured in situ, this gives important information about the heat flux from the interior and thus about the thermal evolution of the body. Therefore, in most of the recent and planned planetary lander missions experiment packages for determining thermo-mechanical properties are part of the payload. Examples are the experiment MUPUS on Rosetta's comet lander Philae, the TECP instrument aboard NASA's Mars polar lander Phoenix, and the mole-type instrument HP3 currently developed for use on upcoming lunar and Mars missions. In this review we describe several methods applied for measuring thermal conductivity and heat flux and discuss the particular difficulties faced when these properties have to be measured in a low pressure and low temperature environment. We point out the abilities and disadvantages of the different instruments and outline the evaluation procedures necessary to extract reliable thermal conductivity and heat flux data from in situ measurements.
► Numerical simulation of the thermal history of a planetary body. ► Development of robust thermal conductivity sensors for planetary applications. ► Measurement of the global heat flow of a planet or small planetary body.
Thermal conductivity; Planetary surfaces; Lander missions
Exposure to crystalline silica can result in damage to the lung parenchyma and scarring that can lead to fibrosis. Pulmonary damage may be the direct consequence of toxic interaction between quartz particles and cell membranes, or it may be due to silica-induced production of oxidant species by pulmonary phagocytes, that in turn overwhelms pulmonary antioxidant systems and causes lung injury. Data indicate that grinding or fracturing quartz particles breaks Si-O bonds and generates .Si and Si-O. radicals on the surface of the cleavage planes. Upon contact with water, these silica-based radicals can generate hydroxyl radicals (.OH). These surface radicals decay as fractured silica dust is aged. Freshly fractured quartz is significantly more potent than aged silica in directly causing lipid peroxidation, membrane damage, and cell death. Furthermore, freshly ground silica is a more potent stimulant of alveolar macrophages than aged silica. This silica-induced activation results in the production of superoxide (O2-), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), nitric oxide (NO.), and other oxidant species that can damage lung cells. Tetrandrine, an herbal medicine that exhibits antifibrotic activity in rat models of silicosis, effectively blocks the ability of quartz to stimulate oxidant release from pulmonary phagocytes.
In this paper, we model the reflectance of the lunar regolith by a new method combining Monte Carlo ray tracing and Hapke's model. The existing modeling methods exploit either a radiative transfer model or a geometric optical model. However, the measured data from an Interference Imaging spectrometer (IIM) on an orbiter were affected not only by the composition of minerals but also by the environmental factors. These factors cannot be well addressed by a single model alone. Our method implemented Monte Carlo ray tracing for simulating the large-scale effects such as the reflection of topography of the lunar soil and Hapke's model for calculating the reflection intensity of the internal scattering effects of particles of the lunar soil. Therefore, both the large-scale and microscale effects are considered in our method, providing a more accurate modeling of the reflectance of the lunar regolith. Simulation results using the Lunar Soil Characterization Consortium (LSCC) data and Chang'E-1 elevation map show that our method is effective and useful. We have also applied our method to Chang'E-1 IIM data for removing the influence of lunar topography to the reflectance of the lunar soil and to generate more realistic visualizations of the lunar surface.
Most studies of respiratory disease from dust exposure in the agricultural workplace have focused on allergic diseases caused by inorganic dusts, specifically occupational asthma and hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Exposures to inorganic (mineral) dusts among farmers and farm workers may be substantial. Such exposures are most frequent in dry-climate farming regions. In such locations farming activities that perturb the soil (e.g., plowing, tilling) commonly result in exposures to farm operators of 1-5 mg/m(3) respirable dust and >= 20 mg/m(3) total dust. The composition of inorganic dust in agriculture generally reflects the soil composition. Crystalline silica may represent up to 20% of particles, and silicates represent up to 80%. These very high concentrations of inorganic dust are likely to explain some of the increase in chronic bronchitis reported in many studies of farmers. Pulmonary fibrosis (mixed dust pneumoconiosis) has been reported in agricultural workers, and dust samples from the lungs in these cases reflect the composition of agricultural soils, strongly suggesting an etiologic role for inorganic agricultural dusts. However, the prevalence and clinical severity of these cases are unknown, and many exposures are to mixed organic and inorganic dusts. Epidemiologic studies of farmers in diverse geographic settings also have observed an increase in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease morbidity and mortality. It is plausible that agricultural exposure to inorganic dusts is causally associated with chronic bronchitis, interstitial fibrosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but the independent contribution of mineral dusts beyond the effects of organic dusts remains to be determined.
Lunar calendars, publishing recommendations for daily life, are gaining more and more attention in Germany, where 10.5% of the population believe in lunar effects on disease. A widespread and often heard belief is that a full moon has the most negative effects on surgical outcome. The present study evaluates the effects of lunar phase on perioperative complications in total hip arthroplasty.
Material and methods
We performed a retrospective study with 305 patients being provided with a primary hip arthroplasty. To identify possible influences of the lunar phase on perioperative complications we investigated data such as operation length, blood loss and course of C-reactive protein that were collected during the patients’ stay in the hospital and allocated them to moon illumination.
There were no significant differences in all collected data concerning the lunar phase (p > 0.05). Although not statistically significant, there were fewer operations during the full moon phase.
Therefore there is no evidence that lunar phase has an effect on perioperative complications in total hip arthroplasty. Fewer, though not significantly fewer, operations were performed during the full moon phase. Although this was not a prospective randomized trial, the statistical magnitude of the results does not support any recommendations for scheduling patients for total hip arthroplasty at any particular day of the lunar phase.
lunar phase; hip arthroplasty; perioperative complications
Studies have shown a link between living on a farm, exposure to microbial components (e.g., endotoxins or β-d-glucans), and a lower risk for allergic diseases and asthma. Due to the lack of validated sampling methods, studies of asthma and atopy have not relied on exposure assessment based on culture techniques. Our objective was therefore to compare several dust sampling methods for the detection of cultivable-microorganism exposure in stables. Sixteen French farms were sampled using four different methods: (i) active air sampling using a pump, (ii) passive dust sampling with a plastic box, (iii) dust sampling with an electrostatic dust fall collector (wipe), and (iv) dust sampling using a spatula to collect dust already settled on a windowsill. The results showed that collection of settled dust samples with either plastic boxes or wipes was reproducible (pairwise correlations, 0.72 and 0.73, respectively) and resulted in highly correlated results (pairwise correlation between the two methods, 0.82). We also found that settled dust samples collected with a plastic box correctly reflected the composition of the samples collected in the air of the stable when there was no farmer activity. A loss of microbial diversity was observed when dust was kept for 3 months at room temperature. We therefore conclude that measurement of viable microorganisms within a reasonable time frame gives an accurate representation of the microbial composition of stable air.
Exposure of heavy metals to human beings has risen dramatically in the last 50 years. In today’s urban and industrial society, there is no escaping from exposure to toxic chemicals and heavy metals. Humans are more likely to be exposed to heavy metal contamination from the dust that adheres to edible plants than from bioaccumulation. This is because it is very difficult to wash off all the dust particles from the plant material before ingesting them. The objectives of this experiment were to determine the concentrations of lead (Pb) and cadmium (Cd) in washing residues and in the tissues of fruits of date palm growing in 14 sites of Riyadh and also to assess whether the fruits were safe for human consumption. The washing residues and tissue of date palm fruits collected from different sites showed the presence of significant amounts of the Pb and Cd. The concentration of Pb in the dust and fruit tissue increased with increasing anthropogenic sources. Therefore, fruits of date palm might be used as a pollution indicator; it might be recommend that fruits of date palm could be safe for human consumption after washing. The mean concentration of Pb and Cd in all the samples collected from different sites is within the safe limits recommended by FAO/WHO.
Date palm; Fruit; Heavy metals; Bisr; Rutab; Tamr; Pollution
The peculiar characteristics of dust toxicity are discussed in relation to the processes taking place at the particle-biological medium interface. Because of surface reactivity, toxicity of solids is not merely predictable from chemical composition and molecular structure, as with water soluble compounds. With particles having the same bulk composition, micromorphology (the thermal and mechanical history of dust and adsorption from the environment) determines the kind and abundance of active surface sites, thus modulating reactivity toward cells and tissues. The quantitative evaluation of doses is discussed in comparisons of dose-response relationships obtained with different materials. Responses related to the surface of the particle are better compared on a per-unit surface than per-unit weight basis. The role of micromorphology, hydrophilicity, and reactive surface cations in determining the pathogenicity of inhaled particles is described with reference to silica and asbestos toxicity. Heating crystalline silica decreases hydrophilicity, with consequent modifications in membranolytic potential, retention, and transport. Transition metal ions exposed at the surface generate free radicals in aqueous suspensions. Continuous redox cycling of iron, with consequent activation-reactivation of the surface sites releasing free radicals, could account for the long-term pathogenicity caused by the inhalation of iron-containing fibers. In various pathogenicities caused by mixed dusts, the contact between components modifies toxicity. Hard metal lung disease is caused by exposure to mixtures of metals and carbides, typically cobalt (Co) and tungsten carbide (WC), but not to single components. Toxicity stems from reactive oxygen species generation in a mechanism involving both Co metal and WC in mutual contact. A relationship between the extent of water adsorption and biopersistence is proposed for vitreous fibers. Modifications of the surface taking place in vivo are described for ferruginous bodies and for the progressive comminution of chrysotile asbestos fibers.
Aims: To assess hazards associated with exposure to dust in the London Underground railway and to provide an informed opinion on the risks to workers and the travelling public of exposure to tunnel dust.
Methods: Concentrations of dust, as mass (PM2.5) and particle number, were measured at different underground stations and in train cabs; its size and composition were analysed; likely maximal exposures of staff and passengers were estimated; and in vitro toxicological testing of sample dusts in comparison with other dusts was performed.
Results: Concentrations on station platforms were 270–480 µg/m3 PM2.5 and 14 000–29 000 particles/cm3. Cab concentrations over a shift averaged 130–200 µg/m3 and 17 000–23 000 particles/cm3. The dust comprised by mass approximately 67% iron oxide, 1–2% quartz, and traces of other metals, the residue being volatile matter. The finest particles are drawn underground from the surface while the coarser dust is generated by interaction of brakes, wheels, and rails. Taking account of durations of exposure, drivers and station staff would have maximum exposures of about 200 µg/m3 over eight hours; the occupational exposure standard for welding fume, as iron oxide, is 5 mg/m3 over an eight hour shift. Toxicology showed the dust to have cytotoxic and inflammatory potential at high doses, consistent with its composition largely of iron oxide.
Discussion: It is unjustifiable to compare PM2.5 exposure underground with that on the surface, since the adverse effects of iron oxide and combustion generated particles differ. Concentrations of ultrafine particles are lower and of coarser (PM2.5) particles higher underground than on the surface. The concentrations underground are well below allowable workplace concentrations for iron oxide and unlikely to represent a significant cumulative risk to the health of workers or commuters.
OBJECTIVES—To explore relations between two estimates of exposure to inhalable flour dust, and the incidence rates (IRs) of asthma and rhinitis in bakers.
METHODS—This was a retrospective cohort study among 2923 bakers. A posted questionnaire registered the disease and work history. For every year, each baker was assigned an estimate of the exposure concentration to inhalable flour dust derived from reported job-tasks and dust measurements. Exposure at onset of disease was expressed as current dust exposure concentration, and as cumulative dose of exposure to dust. A multiple Poisson regression analysis assessed the impacts of the exposure estimates on the IRs of asthma and rhinitis.
RESULTS—IRs of asthma and rhinitis increased by dust concentration at onset of disease. The IR of asthma for the bakers with highest exposure (dough makers) was 7.3/1000 person-years in men and 6.5 in women and for rhinitis 43.4 and 38.5, respectively. There was a significant association between the dust concentration at onset of disease and the risk for asthma or rhinitis, but not of the cumulative exposure.
CONCLUSION—The risk of asthma seemed to be increased at inhalable dust concentrations ⩾3 mg/m3 (dough making or bread forming), whereas the risk of rhinitis was increased at all concentrations ⩾1 mg/m3, indicating an increased risk in all bakery job-tasks. The risks seemed to be less dependent on the cumulative exposure dust than the inhalable dust concentrations.
Keywords: bakers; exposure-response relations; flour dust
Although dolomite is classified as a relatively non-toxic, nuisance dust, little information exists as to its potential to produce respiratory disorders following occupational exposure. The purpose of this study was, therefore, to evaluate the possible effects, if any, of heavy inhalation exposure to this chemical on the prevalence of respiratory symptoms, functional impairments and radiographic abnormalities of the lungs.
The study population consisted of a group of 39 exposed subjects engaged in digging and excavating activities that were in operation for building a local dam, as well as 40 healthy non-exposed employees that served as the referent group. Subjects were interviewed and respiratory symptoms questionnaires, as suggested by the American Thoracic Society (ATS), were completed for them. Thereafter, they underwent chest X-ray and lung function tests. Additionally, using routine gravimetric techniques, personal dust monitoring for airborne inhalable and respirable dust was carried out at different dusty work sites. Finally to determine the chemical composition of the dust, it was analyzed by X-ray fluorescence (XRF) technique.
XRF revealed that the major component (50.52%) of the dust was calcium magnesium carbonate, dolomite. Additionally, levels of exposure to inhalable and respirable dust were estimated to be 51.7±24.31 and 23.0±18.11mg/m3, respectively. Statistical analysis of the data showed that symptoms such as regular cough, phlegm, wheezing, productive cough and shortness of breath were significantly (p<0.05) more prevalent among exposed workers. Similarly, the ratio of FEV1/FVC in exposed subjects was significantly different from that of non-exposed individuals. In contrast, no significant abnormalities were observed in the chest radiographs of both groups.
In conclusion, while these data cast doubt on the notion that dolomite is a harmless chemical, they provide evidence in favour of the proposition that exposure to high atmospheric concentrations of this compound is likely to be associated with respiratory symptoms.
Dolomite dust; Occupational exposure; Respiratory symptoms; Functional impairments of the lungs
Rats were exposed by inhalation to coal mine dust, titanium dioxide, or quartz. The magnitude of the consequent inflammatory response was assessed by counting numbers and types of leukocytes in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. The magnitude of the inflammatory response reflected the toxicity of the dusts, with quartz eliciting the greatest recruitment of inflammatory leukocytes, coal mine dust less than quartz, and titanium dioxide eliciting no inflammation. To assess the persistence of the inflammation, groups of rats were maintained in room air for 30 or 60 days after cessation of dust exposure and then numbers of leukocytes were assessed. Bronchoalveolar leukocytes in rats exposed to coal mine dust were reduced after exposure, but in the quartz-exposed rats the numbers increased with time after exposure. The chemotactic responses of bronchoalveolar leukocytes from rats inhaling coal mine dust and quartz were reduced and remained so after a 30-day recovery period. Their reduced ability to chemotact did not fully prevent macrophages from leaving the bronchoalveolar region of dust-exposed rats. However, it is likely that the delayed removal of inflammatory leukocytes with the potential to injure the lung tissue may contribute to septal damage and so contribute to the pathogenesis of pneumoconiosis.
It is well known that an exposure to crystalline silica gives rise to silicosis and silico-tuberculosis (TB). In the agate industry of Khambhat (Gujarat) not only workers but also people staying in the vicinity of the agate-grinding facilities are exposed to crystalline silica. To reduce their dust exposure, dust control devices were developed. There are approximately 500 grinding machines located in Khambhat. A cost–benefit analysis of installing dust control devices on all agate-grinding machines was carried out by adding all positive factors and benefits and subtracting the negatives and costs. It was concluded that by installing dust control devices not only could the prevalence of silicosis and TB be reduced but also, in the long run, there could be financial benefits.
Agate industry; cost–benefit analysis; silicosis