Acute lung function changes and low endotoxin exposures in the potato processing industry

Am J Ind Med. 1998 Apr;33(4):384-91. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0274(199804)33:4<384::aid-ajim9>;2-u.


Work-related respiratory symptoms, acute lung function changes and personal endotoxin exposure were studied in 61 workers from a potato processing plant. According to their job title mean endotoxin exposure level, workers were divided into low (AM = 21 EU/m3) and high (AM = 56 EU/m3) exposure categories. Shortness of breath and chest tightness during work were reported by 18% and 16% of the workers, respectively, mainly in the low endotoxin exposure category. A total of 148 across-shift lung function changes were measured during three consecutive afternoon shifts. The mean FEV1 and MMEF showed a decrease over the work shift, being largest on the first working day after a 3-day absence from work. Workers exposed to high endotoxin levels showed a larger across-shift decrease in lung function than workers exposed to low endotoxin exposures, the effect being most pronounced on the first day after a 3-day absence from work. At the start of the second work shift, FVC, FEV1 and MMEF were lower than at the start of the first work shift. This difference was larger for high exposed workers. High exposed workers with work-related respiratory symptoms showed an 8-10% across-shift change in FVC, FEV1 and MMEF We conclude that significant across-shift decreases in lung function of potato processing workers is related to endotoxin exposure levels above 53 EU/m3 over 8 hr.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / epidemiology
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / etiology*
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / physiopathology
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / adverse effects*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Dust / adverse effects
  • Endotoxins / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Epidemiological Monitoring
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Function Tests*
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / etiology*
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / physiopathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Solanum tuberosum / adverse effects*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Dust
  • Endotoxins