Department of Public Health Sciences

Personal exposures to inorganic and organic dust in manual harvest of California citrus and table grapes

Lee, K., R. J. Lawson, S. A. Olenchock, V. Vallyathan, R. J. Southard, P. S. Thorne, C. Saiki and M. B. Schenker

J Occup Environ Hyg. 2004. 1(8):505-14.

The aim of this study was to determine characteristics of personal exposure to inorganic and organic dust during manual harvest operations of California citrus and table grapes. Personal exposures to inhalable dust and respirable dust were measured five times over a 4-month period of harvesting season. We analyzed components of the dust samples for mineralogy, respirable quartz, endotoxin, and total and culturable microorganisms. Workers manually harvesting were exposed to a complex mixture of inorganic and organic dust. Exposures for citrus harvest had geometric means of 39.7 mg/m(3) for inhalable dust and 1.14 mg/m(3) for respirable dust. These exposures were significantly higher than those for table grape operations and exceeded the threshold limit value for inhalable dust and respirable quartz. Exposures for table grape operations were lower than the threshold limit value, except inhalable dust exposure during leaf pulling. Considered independently, exposures to inhalable dust and respirable quartz in citrus harvest may be high enough to cause respiratory health effects. The degree of vigorous contact with foliage appeared to be a significant determining factor of exposures in manual harvesting.

Keywords: Adult; *Agriculture; Bacteria/isolation & purification; California; *Dust; *Fruit; Fungi/isolation & purification; Humans; Minerals; *Occupational Exposure; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

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