Dust exposure in workers from grain storage facilities in Costa Rica

About 12 million workers are involved in the production of basic grains in Central America. However, few studies in the region have examined the occupational factors associated with inhalable dust exposure. In the present study, the authors assessed the exposure to inhalable dust in workers from rice, maize, and wheat storage facilities in Costa Rica; examined the occupational factors associated with this exposure; and measured concentrations of respirable and thoracic particles in different areas of the storage facilities. Inhalable (<100?m) dust concentrations were measured in 176 personal samples collected from 136 workers of eight grain storage facilities in Costa Rica. In addition, respirable (<4?m) and thoracic (<10?m) dust particles were measured in several areas of the storage facilities. Geometric mean (GM) and geometric standard deviation (GSD) inhalable dust concentrations were 2.0mg/m(3) and 7.8 (range=<0.2-275.4mg/m(3)). Personal inhalable dust concentrations were associated with job category [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="yes" overflow="visible"][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="no" center_content="no" min_height="none"][GM for category/GM for administrative staff and other workers (95% CI)=4.4 (2.6, 7.2) for packing; 20.4 (12.3, 34.7) for dehulling; 109.6 (50.1, 234.4) for unloading in flat bed sheds; 24.0 (14.5, 39.8) for unloading in pits; and 31.6 (18.6, 52.5) for drying], and cleaning task [15.8 (95% CI: 10.0, 26.3) in workers who cleaned in addition to their regular tasks]. Higher area concentrations of thoracic dust particles were found in wheat (GM and GSD=4.3mg/m(3) and 4.5) and maize (3.0mg/m(3) and 3.9) storage facilities, and in grain drying (2.3mg/m(3) and 3.1) and unloading (1.5mg/m(3) and 4.8) areas. The authors concluded that operators of grain storage facilities showed elevated inhalable dust concentrations, mostly above international exposure limits. Better engineering and administrative controls are needed.

Authors: Rodríguez-Zamora MG, Medina-Escobar L, Mora G, Zock JP, van Wendel de Joode B, Mora AM. ; Full Source: International Journal of Hygiene & Environmental Health. 2017 Jun 21. pii: S1438-4639(16)30586-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2017.06.002. [Epub ahead of print][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]