Healthy volunteers exposed for 3 hr during weighing of pigs develop an airway inflammation characterized by a massive influx of neutrophilic granulocytes in the upper and lower airways and increased bronchial responsiveness to methacholine. The purpose of the present study was to investigate health effects from exposure during cleaning of the swine confinement building and to evaluate the effect of a respiratory protection device.
Sixteen subjects were exposed for 3 hr during cleaning of a swine confinement room with a high-pressure cleaner. Seven out of sixteen subjects were equipped with a mask during exposure.
The bronchial responsiveness increased in all subjects following exposure, significantly more in the group exposed without a mask (P < 0.05). The cell concentration (mainly neutrophilic granulocytes) in nasal lavage fluid as well as the concentration of interleukin-8, increased significantly only in those subjects exposed without a respiratory protection device. In peripheral blood, an increase of neutrophilic granulocytes was observed in both groups, although it was significantly higher in the group without mask (P < 0.05). The inhalable dust level was 0.94 (0.74 – 1.55) mg/m3 and respirable dust 0.56 (0.51–0.63) mg/m3.
Exposure to dust aerosols during the cleaning of the interior of a swine confinement building induces increased bronchial responsiveness and an acute inflammatory reaction in the upper airways. The use of a mask attenuated but did not abolish the inflammatory response. This suggests that gases and/or ultrafine particles in this environment could be important factors in the development of increased bronchial responsiveness. Am. J. Ind. Med. 41:250–258, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.