Exposure to respirable flour dust and gliadin in wheat flour mills

J Occup Health. 2011;53(6):417-22. doi: 10.1539/joh.11-0045-oa. Epub 2011 Oct 13.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine the concentrations of respirable flour dusts and gliadin as well as gliadin-specific serum antibodies in exposed workers of Hamadan wheat flour mill factories.

Methods: Blood samples from 95 exposed workers and 80 air samples from flour packing, husk packing, flour production and wheat unloading areas were collected. Respirable flour dust density was measured by a gravimetric method, and dust gliadin concentration as well as serum antibodies were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays.

Results: The Time-weighted average (TWA) flour dust density was higher in all factories (1.56-4.68 mg/m(3)) compared with the threshold limit value (0.5 mg/m(3)) of ACGIH and showed a positive correlation with the gliadin concentration (p<0.05). Additionally, the respirable dust and gliadin concentrations were significantly higher at flour packing workstations compare with the other work areas. Moreover, the mean serum gliadin-specific IgA and IgG and total IgE antibodies were remarkably higher in exposed mill workers compared with the controls (p<0.05).

Conclusion: We clearly demonstrated that workers in Hamadan flour mills are in exposed to a hazardous level of respirable flour dust, receiving the highest level of dust and gliadin in flour packing areas. Furthermore, dust-exposed workers showed upper levels of serum antibodies indicating exposure to higher amounts of allergens than controls.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / analysis*
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / blood
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / statistics & numerical data
  • Dust / analysis*
  • Dust / immunology
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Flour / analysis*
  • Food-Processing Industry*
  • Gliadin / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / blood
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Immunoglobulin Isotypes / blood
  • Inhalation Exposure / analysis
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Workplace


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Dust
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin Isotypes
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Gliadin