Total Dust and Endotoxin in Poultry Operations: Comparison Between Cage and Floor Housing and Respiratory Effects in Workers

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Abstract

Objective:

The objective of this study was to assess respiratory outcomes and environmental exposure levels of workers in cage-housed and floor-housed poultry operations.

Methods:

Poultry operations were evaluated for total dust, endotoxin, and ammonia, and respiratory symptoms and lung function tests of workers were conducted.

Results:

Workers in floor-housed poultry operations had significantly greater exposures to total dust and ammonia, whereas workers from cage-housed poultry operations reported greater frequency of current and chronic symptoms overall and significantly greater current and chronic phlegm (39% vs 18% and 40% vs 11%, respectively). Endotoxin concentration (EU/mg) was a significant predictor (P = 0.05) of chronic phlegm for all poultry workers.

Conclusions:

Greater endotoxin concentration in the presence of significantly lower total dust, in conjunction with greater respiratory symptoms in workers from cage-housed poultry operations, as compared with workers from floor-housed poultry operations, appears to indicate that differences in environmental exposures may impact respiratory outcomes of workers.

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