Occupational Asthma Reference

Sander I, NeuhausSchroder C, RaulfHeimsoth M, Doekes G, Heederik D, Baur X, Quantification of inhaled exposure to alpha-amylase in 2 bakeries, Pneumologie, 1998;52:440-443,

Keywords: exposure, alpha amylase, rhinitis, flour, enzyme, aspergillus oryzae, amylase, am

Known Authors

Dick Heederik, Institute of Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht Dick Heederik

Xaver Baur, Institute of occupational medicine, Hamburg Xaver Baur

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BACKGROUND: Baker's asthma and baker's rhinitis are among the most frequent occupational diseases. A major cause is the high exposure to flour dust in the workplace and to allergenic enzymes like alpha-amylase from Aspergillus oryzae (allergen name: Asp o 2).

METHODS: To quantify allergen exposure in the workplace, 31 personal dust samples in a conventional small bakery (six workers) and in a biobakery (seven workers) were collected. Using a recently developed two-site enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay based on monoclonal antibodies to alpha-amylase from Aspergillus oryzae, the allergen content of these dust samples was determined.

RESULTS: Dust exposure in the biobakery was in the range between 3.5 and 12 mg/m3 (median: 5.2 mg/m3) and in the conventional bakery between 0.9 and 118 mg/m3 (median 8.5 mg/m3). 23 out of 31 exposure measurements showed values higher than 4 mg/m3 (threshold limit value for inhalable dust). In the biobakery, no fungal alpha-amylase could be detected. 15 out of 17 samples taken in the conventional bakery contained fungal alpha-amylase in the range between 0.2 and 88 ng per mg dust. The geometric mean of alpha-amylase exposure in this bakery was 13 ng Asp o 2/m3, and the maximum exposure was 4.8 micrograms/m3. In four cases, fungal alpha-amylase was detected although exposure to dust was below the threshold limit of 4 mg/m3.

CONCLUSIONS: This study in two German bakeries shows that preventive measures to reduce contact to allergens have not been sufficiently realised. Relevant alpha-amylase exposure occurred at low dust levels illustrating that dust measurements are not adequate to control alpha-amylase exposure. For fungal alpha-amylase an additional threshold limit should be established

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