Endotoxins - Nordic expert group and Dutch DECOS publish criteria document

The document on endotoxins is an update of a report published by the Dutch Health Council in 1998 and has been reviewed by DECOS as well as by NEG. The members of both committees are listed in Appendix 1. Endotoxins are components of the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria and have been recognised as an important biologically active component in most organic dusts. Such bacteria-containing dust particles originate mainly from animal faeces and contaminated plant materials. Occupational exposure to endotoxins therefore occurs primarily in the agriculture industry and related sectors, and sectors handling mould contaminated materials and materials from plant and animal origin, such as the textile industry, spinning, food production, saw milling, wood processing and construction occupations handling biological materials, but also in waste handling. Numerous studies have been published concerning the health effects of occupational exposure to endotoxins. Most of these studies deal with the adverse respiratory health consequences. Acute effects in humans after endotoxin inhalation are dry cough and shortness of breath accompanied by decreased lung function, fever reactions and malaise, and sometimes dyspnoea, headache and joint aches occurring a few hours after exposure. Chronic endotoxin exposure may lead to chronic bronchitis and reduced lung function. The document considers the respiratory effects, and, based on the available information, the committees are of the opinion that no adverse health effects are expected after chronic occupational exposure up to 90 EU/m3.

Source : http://gupea.ub.gu.se/bitstream/2077/26596/2/gupea_2077_26596_2.pdf

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