It is well known that exposure to organic dust can cause adverse respiratory effect. The pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPS) in the organic dust, such as endotoxin from Gram-negative bacteria cell wall and fungal components, can trigger the release of cytokine (e.g. Interleukin 1ß (IL-1ß)) and chemokine (e.g. Interleukin 8 (IL-8)) from the immune cells in the airways.
To evaluate the potential inflammatory effects of organic dust exposure in energy plants in Denmark.
Nasal lavage (NAL) and exhaled breath condensate (EBC) were sampled at Monday morning (referred to as before work) and again at Thursday afternoon (referred to as after work). NAL IL-8, EBC pH, IL-1ß concentration were measured. Personal exposure to endotoxin and dust was calculated from time spent on different tasks and measured average work area exposures.
Before work, workers from biofuel plants had a higher IL-1ß and IL-8 concentration compared to conventional fuel plants (control group). Specifically, the IL-1ß level of moderately and most exposed group, and IL-8 level of the least exposed group were higher compared to the control group. The changes of IL-1ß, pH and IL-8 during a work week were not significant. Workers with rhinitis had a lower percentage change of IL-8 compared to healthy workers.
An increased level of EBC IL-1ß in biofuel energy plant workers before work indicated a chronic or sub-chronic inflammation. The percentage change of IL-8 was lower in workers with rhinitis compared to healthy workers.