With high pollution levels putting some of the world’s most famous masterpieces housed in the Sistine Chapel at risk, the Vatican is hoping to save artwork through new air purification systems, The Associated Press reported.
The head of the Vatican Museums recently announced pollution in the Sistine Chapel have reached levels that may further damage its artwork. Recent studies indicate that the chapel’s almost 5.5 million annual visitors are adding to dust and humidity that pose a risk to various pieces of art, according to Religion News Service.
During the peak tourism season for the Sistine Chapel, 20,000 people walk through its halls each day – a figure that is three times the number of visitors compared to the last 30 years – bringing in dirt and dust along with them. In addition to Michelangelo’s painting depicted on the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling, the chapel contains the works of Pietro Perugino, Sandro Botticelli and Luca Signorelli.
Restoration at the chapel last took place in the 1990s, with the frescoes ending up brighter than what Michelangelo would have envisioned, according to critics of the restoration. Director Antonio Paolucci was hesitant about having another major restoration. He said restoration is “traumatic” for the artwork.
“There won’t be any more restorations,” he said. “But maintenance continues.”
Air Filtration Systems Help Preserve Artwork’s Integrity
Instead of having another restoration, the Vatican Museums plan to maintain the integrity of its valuable artwork through the use of air purification systems. Paolucci said levels of dust, humidity and carbon dioxide are expected to be controlled through the chapel’s set of air purifiers as well as a new air conditioning system. These systems will be installed at what is usually the site of papal elections and should be operational by the end of 2014.
The Vatican aims to reduce the amount of pollution to a maximum of 800 particles per million. During the Sistine Chapel’s highest concentration of pollution, this level is more than 1,600 particles per million, according to officials.
While Paolucci said he was confident the new air purifying and conditioning system will help reduce the dulling and discoloration of the chapel’s artwork, if pollution inside the chapel is not curbed, the Vatican may be forced to limit its number of visitors.
“If this project doesn’t work, I’ll be forced to impose a limited number (of visitors),” Paolucci said. “But that would be a painful solution.”
WHO Encourages a Global Effort to Instill Regulation and Clean the Air After Classifying Outdoor Air Pollution as Cancer Risk
Outdoor air pollution is officially classified as a carcinogen, according to a recent report by the World Health Organization. WHO came to the conclusion air pollution is cancer-causing after evaluating more than 1,000 scientific publications and reviewing significant evidence connecting particulate exposure and lung cancer. Approximately 223,000 of the global population died of lung cancer in 2010 and WHO expects this rate will increase with the rising amount of particulate matter in the air. Air pollution also increases the risk of developing heart and respiratory diseases as well as bladder cancer, according to ABC News.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of WHO responsible for cancer research, said air pollution is not only the most prevalent cause of cancer risk in the environment but also the worst.
Kurt Straif, head of the IARC department that analyzes carcinogens, said the air people breathe in becomes mixed with cancer-causing substances, which can include gases and particulate matter. One of the major risks of air pollution is having fine particles that can become embedded deep within the lungs.
“The predominant sources of outdoor air pollution are transportation, stationary power generation, industrial and agricultural emissions, and residential heating and cooking,” the IARC stated in the report. “There are effective ways to reduce air pollution and, given the scale of the exposure affecting people worldwide, this report should send a strong signal to the international community to take action without further delay.”
IARC encourages the international community to adopt stricter limits of pollution and for governments to enact public policy to reduce emissions of particulates and other potential harmful substances.
How the Manufacturing Sector Can Help Improve Air Quality
IARC suggests the main way to prevent this rising cancer rate is to clean the air, according to CNN. The manufacturing sector is reported to contribute to the widespread air pollution, which puts developing countries that are in the process of industrializing at the most risk. Manufacturers can help improve air quality through removing contaminants at the source with fume extractors, which will help maintain air quality of indoor facilities to make it safer for workers. Installing air purification systems will help extract pollutants that mix with outdoor air, including hazardous fumes, gases and particulates, before they make their way outside facilities. Portable air cleaners are also effective in removing airborne contaminants before they enter the lungs of employees, which could mean the difference between developing health problems later on.
Powerful air ventilation systems can reduce the amount of bacteria found in a locker room.
Building managers overseeing locker rooms in gyms and stadiums will need to ensure these areas are outfitted with working air filtration systems. Whether it’s the men’s or women’s area, locker rooms may foster the harmful growth of infectious diseases and more if they are not properly cleaned, or don’t have a functioning HVAC system.
Filter Out the Odors
Locker rooms are typically used by gym goers and professional athletes for a variety of reasons, and it’s not uncommon to sometimes think of locker rooms as where athletes hang out. In fact, these facilities serve many purposes, starting with as a private area for individuals to change and shower in.
But as sports have changed to become an even bigger part of popular culture, professional teams have invested more into their facilities. These days, locker rooms are only one part of a much larger facility. Take for instance the Oregon Ducks college football team, who in 2013 unveiled a $68 million dollar structure where student-athletes could realistically live in.
Athletes have access to not only a cafeteria, barbershop and theater, but also a weight room, health center and changing area. No matter the time of the year, athletes are training to better themselves for the next season. While the sweat or odors inherent in any locker room setting may not seem like much at face value, if perspiration and such aren’t accounted for, health issues can arise.
By removing odors, building managers are creating a cleaner environment that not only looks well kept, but also smells pleasant, given the purpose these areas serve. Locker rooms in public gyms or workout spots may be avoided if they are not properly maintained, and this could translate into members foregoing storing their personal belongings in a locker. This may increase the risk of potential theft.
But in locker rooms, a more dangerous situation has the potential to cause serious medical harm in the form of staph infections and potentially MRSA.
What is a Staph Infection?
As defined by the Mayo Clinic, staph infections can be caused by staphylococcus bacteria making its way deep into an individual’s body, such as the bloodstream or heart. Staph infection symptoms are varied depending on where the infection is first found.
For example, skin infection symptoms include the development of boils, a painful impetigo or even scalded skin syndrome, which is when blisters form and easily break.
In sports, staph infections can spread through contact when there are open cuts or skin-to-skin contact. Locker rooms are also known to be a cause for these infections when athletes share equipment, towels or uniforms.
One serious form of a staph infection is MRSA, which the Mayo Clinic stated is typically resistant to major antibiotics used to treat regular staph infections. MRSA can also be spread by skin-to-skin contact in locker rooms.
MRSA infections are not just a concern at the high school or amateur level, either. In 2015, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Lawrence Tynes sued the team after he contracted MRSA that forced him to retire. He claimed the organization never informed the team members that individuals who had MRSA visited facilities, nor was equipment properly cleaned and sterilized.
These are only a small number of professional athletes who have developed MRSA and as such, organizations and building managers need to ensure their athletes are in the safest locker room environment possible.
“Powerful air ventilation systems can reduce the amount of bacteria found in a locker room.”
Creating a Clean Locker Room
First, all gym and locker room equipment should be thoroughly cleaned and sterilized to help prevent staph infections from spreading. Athletes will also have to be proactive to prevent contracting these serious infections. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended athletes always wash their hands before and after playing or practicing their sport. By following good personal hygiene, athletes of all ages will help decrease the chance of contracting a staph infection or MRSA.
But the locker rooms also need to be outfitted with the latest in air filtration systems. The Mayo Clinic stated that staph bacteria is found in the nose or on the skin of roughly a third of the population and in most instances, the bacteria is harmless.
Even so, powerful air ventilation systems can help reduce the amount of bacteria found in a locker room, while also eliminating odors and mildew. These systems should be utilized everywhere, from high school and college locker rooms to those found in public gyms and workout facilities.
By contacting Air Impurities Removal Systems, locker room and building managers are helping to ensure they are doing everything possible to reduce the likelihood of athletes contacting a serious infection.
The medical condition is considered a deficiency in the ability to produce natural tears and affects up to 4 million people aged 50 and older in the United States. Dry eye syndrome can lead to changes in quality of life and can prevent people from enjoying everyday activities like reading. This syndrome can also cause the eyes to produce an excess amount of tears as a response.
Environmental factors such as atmospheric conditions have long been pinpointed as a cause for the condition. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on its site that indoor pollutants can also result in a variety of adverse health effects, such as sore eyes, headaches, and fatigue, which could be reduced with air cleaners. Sources of these pollutants include combustion pollutants, including carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), from chemicals commonly detected in varnishes and waxes as well as cleaning materials.
Researchers in the study connected the prevalence of dry eye syndrome to the amount of pollution city residents face, according to daily Rx News. For the study, data on 3.41 million patients who visited 394 eye clinics for veterans in locations around the U.S. were collected between July 2006 and July 2011. Out of these millions of patients, about 606,000 were recorded as having low tear volume, which could indicate dry eye syndrome. The research results were announced at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in New Orleans.
The connection between eye health and dry eye contaminants
The locations most likely to have patients exposed today eye contaminants included most metropolitan areas in the study. These locations were New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami, which were all found to have 17 to 21 percent of patients with dry eye syndrome as well as large amounts of air pollution. However, a solution to prevent this medical condition is as simple as using air filtration systems.
“Undoubtedly, many people living in arid and polluted cities would readily attest to the irritating effect air pollution has on dry eye,” said Anat Galor, M.D., Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. “Our research suggests that simple actions, such as maintaining the appropriate humidity indoors and using a high-quality air filter, should be considered as part of the overall management of patients suffering from dry eye syndrome.”
The research indicates it would be helpful for both primary care doctors and eye care professionals, such as optometrists and ophthalmologists to understand the relationship between dry eye contaminants and other environmental factors. In diagnosing the condition and suggesting the best treatment options, health care providers should inquire about the patients’ environmental history. Knowing the impact of dry eye contaminants on optical health, eye care facilities might consider utilizing air filtration systems to protect their patients from poor indoor air quality.
Hospital and medical facility news is brought to you by Air Impurities Removal Systems, Inc.
Facing the constant risk of bacteria and regulatory pressures from federal agencies, food manufacturers must ensure their products are free from all sources of contamination, including the air. Maintaining safe and hygienic air quality levels not only provides employees with a comfortable work environment but also reduces the possibility of contaminants that are commonly found during food manufacturing.
Air should especially be controlled if it comes into direct contact with food. For example, common foods that are processed using air filtration systems include eggs. To prevent contamination of eggs by micro-organisms such as salmonella, eggs are sent through in-line conveyor belts, scrubbed with automated machinery, dried with filtered air and sanitized with chlorine misters.
Proper safety measures can help prevent the growth of microorganisms and the accumulation of particulates such as dust. Microorganisms that can harm food and, consequently, people are airborne and live within droplets, according to Food Safety Magazine. If the air is unfiltered, this could pose a challenge to facilities that wish to keep their structural features, such as overhead pipelines, clean and sanitized. As a best practice for food manufacturers, facilities should have filtration systems to safely remove airborne contaminants and improve the air quality of the building.
Sources for Contamination
When monitoring the air quality for food production factories, companies should note the physical volume of the facility as well as likely sources of food contamination and vulnerable areas in production lines. Sources of contamination could include raw materials used for production, packaging and movable equipment. Since machinery can generate exhaust, placing extractor arms near this equipment can effectively control potential air contamination. People can also bring particulates into the workplace as employees can track in dust and dirt on their feet or clothing. Dust can also cause micro-organism growth unless these particulates and various other contaminants are captured by air filtration systems.
Controls for Contamination
Temperature is an important factor for how food manufacturers can prevent airborne contamination, according to a report by Auburn University Department of Animal Sciences.
“The simplest, most straight-forward method of controlling processing room air conditions is to make sure that all HVAC units are in good working order and consistently maintaining temperature,” the Auburn University study said. “Additionally, doors to processing rooms should be kept closed at all times to reduce the chance of cross contamination and to assist the cooling units in maintaining temperature.”
Of course, proper air filtration goes hand-in-hand with temperature control. Food Safety News suggested the type of products within the facility that are being processed should determine the amount of filtration for incoming air. For example, products that are susceptible to contamination on a micro-level should utilize the highest standard filters.
It is also important to keep ventilation systems running as the risk of contamination grows as time passes.
“It has also been shown that as the day progresses, the amount of air contamination increases,” Auburn University researchers said. “In fact, as the week progresses, there is an increase in the overall contamination of air with bacteria and mold.”
Industrial and manufacturing news brought to you by Air Impurities Removal Systems, Inc.
Pre-COVID-19, the words “pandemic” and “deadly transmissible disease” didn’t affect most of us more than a passing notion. For athletes, coaches, and athletic clubs the focus on indoor air quality in their locker rooms was primarily limited to odor control. Then MRSA hit the scene.
For nearly a decade, bacterial staph in the form of MRSA (1) has plagued players and continues to do so. But now there is a greater threat in the locker room – viral Coronavirus (2) and thwarting both present considerable challenges.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection is caused by a type of staph bacteria that’s become resistant to many of the antibiotics used to treat ordinary staph infections. This means that the antibiotics that used to kill the bacteria — such as methicillin — no longer work. This makes MRSA infections much more difficult to treat.
MRSA first surfaced in hospitals, where it often caused serious bloodstream infections in people who were sick with other diseases and conditions. Now there are varieties of MRSA that occur in nonhospital settings. These infections typically affect the skin of otherwise healthy individuals (3) — such as athletes from time spent in locker rooms.
MRSA is usually spread through physical contact – not through the air. It is usually spread by direct contact (e.g., skin-to-skin) or contact with a contaminated object. However, it can be spread in the air if the person has MRSA pneumonia and is coughing, though this is uncommon in an athletic setting since someone with pneumonia would be unlikely to be present for athletic activity.
MRSA Preventative Measures
The CDC recommends:
Always keep athletic facilities, such as locker rooms, and shared equipment clean whether or not MRSA infections have occurred among the athletes.
Shared equipment should be cleaned after each use and allowed to dry.
Repair or dispose of equipment and furniture with damaged surfaces that do not allow surfaces to be adequately cleaned.
Clean equipment, such as helmets and protective gear, according to the equipment manufacturers’ instructions to make sure the cleaner will not harm the item.
COVID-19 is a disease caused by Coronavirus SARS-COV-2 that can trigger a mild to severe respiratory infection. It can affect your upper respiratory tract (sinuses, nose, and throat) or lower respiratory tract (windpipe and lungs). It spreads the same way other coronaviruses do, mainly through person-to-person contact. Infections range from mild to deadly. (4)
As of now, researchers know that the new coronavirus is spread through droplets released into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets generally do not travel more than a few feet, and they fall to the ground (or onto surfaces) in a few seconds — this is why physical distancing is effective in preventing the spread.
Over time, hospitals and other healthcare facilities developed stringent hygiene routines that successfully reduce the prevalence of bacterial staph and other transmissible diseases. But Covid-19 has presented new challenges – challenges that professional teams and athletic departments are only now trying to conquer.
COVID-19 Preventative Measures
The battle of keeping athletes healthy is challenging but not impossible. Following all CDC recommendations mentioned above, under MRSA prevention in addition to the Hierarchy of Controls model recommended for COVID-19 prevention. (5)
The first and third control methods are elimination and engineering controls, both of which require action to improve indoor air quality. The first, elimination, requires a 987 AMB HEPA source control unit that would physically eliminate viruses that pollute the air and removing surface bacteria. Engineering controls such as proper HVAC systems and HEPA Air Scrubbers and Room Air Cleaners.
Compromised indoor air quality is an occupational risk for leather shoe repairers.
Those who remember the children’s story, The Elves And The Shoemaker, likely envision the protagonist hunched over his cobbler’s bench, surrounded by tools as he stitched together leather pieces and mended old and worn boots and shoes. But in the picture books, plumes of smoke were not depicted. Neither the shoemaker nor the elves that made and fixed the shoes were shown coughing from toxic fumes or wincing from the sting of dirty air. And yet, back then, it was most certainly the reality of the trade.
Today, shoe repairers fare better than their turn-of-the-century predecessors but indoor air quality (IAQ) is still an issue with which the industry struggles. Of the nearly 8,000 tradesmen (1) in the Shoe & Leather Workers & Repairers Industry nationwide, a significant number of them have a high occupational risk for contact with unhealthy toxic substances. While the process of shoe repair seems quick, clean, and straightforward, it is a trade that requires both dexterity and ability. It also includes numerous exposure risks.
Whether a leather upper of a men’s western boot is torn at the seam, a delicate sandal needs a new heel or a pair of men’s wingtips requires resoling, the activity of repair will create dust and fumes. And though the number of toxins released may seem insignificant to a cobbler at the time of restoration, it is the duration of time spent – day after day and year after year – that is hazardous to a shoe repairer’s health. Sanding and nailing wood and cutting and shaving leather creates dust and particulates. The use of adhesives, dyes, and finishes all generate fumes and gases. Combined, these toxins negatively impact the indoor air quality surrounding the breathing space of the person doing the fixing. (2)
Global epidemiological studies provide evidence that employment in shoe production and repair is associated with an enhanced risk for cancer (primarily nose and nasal sinuses). According to the majority of findings, these types of cancers are induced by exposure to leather dust. Leather dust particles contain numerous chemicals acquired during the process of leather tanning and finishing and some of these compounds exert a carcinogenic effect. (3)
In fact, among the occupational causes of sino-nasal cancer, the International Agency for Research into Cancer (IARC) has implicated the manufacture and repair of leather goods as a leading employment category for contact with hazardous contaminants. What’s more, the IARC asserts that because there is less scientific consensus on the carcinogenic effect of fumes and dust from the repairing process, proper preventive measures have not been implemented by many workplaces thus workers are not adequately protected against this health risk. (3) But cancer is not the only threat.
Electron-microscopic studies showed that the airborne dust samples collected during the machine repair of shoes contained leather, polymers, and finishing materials. (2) And within a variety of common shoe repair and refinishing products, two major chemicals, heptane, and ethanol, often can be found.
Symptoms from exposure to both chemicals can include headache, dizziness, vertigo, lightheadedness, stupor, unconsciousness, and irritation of the upper respiratory tract and eyes. In addition, harmful reproductive consequences are possible. Both chemicals have regulated workplace exposure limits and should be managed with respiratory care in mind. (4)
It is unlikely that Americans will stop wearing shoes and requiring their restoration. So long as this is true, exposure to dust and fumes will be an occupational hazard for cobblers. But shoe repairers needn’t subject themselves to unnecessary risk.
At Air Systems Inc., we serve our customers in the Shoe & Leather Workers & Repairers Industry by providing indoor air quality management solutions in addition to stellar IAQ products. Our air impurity removal systems remove toxic fumes and dust for the health and peace of mind of both employee and business owner.
Contact us today for a free air quality assessment with one of our skilled and experienced environmental specialists.
Office equipment is meant to lighten the load of the average worker, but may have an unintended consequence: contaminated air. Since the early-2000s, numerous studies have been done on indoor air quality as it concerns sicknesses that affect office workers.
The EPA has defined office worker illness this way:
The term “sick building syndrome” (SBS) is used to describe situations in which building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified. The complaints may be localized in a particular room or zone or may be widespread throughout the building, In contrast, the term “building-related illness” (BRI) is used when symptoms of diagnosable illness are identified and can be attributed directly to airborne building contaminants.(1)
In so far as a health condition can be labeled, “Building-Related Illness” is what the EPA refers to when describing the otherwise unexplained symptoms from which office workers suffer. Based on the research results, copiers and printers are largely at fault.
Office Equipment Negatively Affects Indoor Air Quality
Xerox introduced the first desk-sized photocopier in 1959. At nearly 650 pounds, it was a monster of a machine. And it revolutionized how businesses operated. Today’s copying process, xerography, is largely the same method as the one debuted by Xerox. Image reproduction is a dry process, one that uses electrostatic charges on a light-sensitive photoreceptor to attract, then transfer, toner particles (which are in powder form) onto paper in the image of the original subject. Heat and pressure are then used to fuse the toner onto the paper. Laser printing works in a similar fashion.
The specific point at which the printing and copying process causes problems is when toner fuses to paper. When toner is heated, fumes, and particulates from chemicals such as styrene and benzene derivatives are released into the air. While the concentration levels released are generally low, they are dangerous to the average office worker due to exposure over the long term – day after day, and year after year of breathing in chemical dust and fumes can wreak havoc on human health. (3)
Overexposure to Volatile Organic Compounds
Whether one works in a large-scale copy center or at a desk that is near a copy machine or printer that serves five people, a bevy of pollutants is emitted into the air each time the machines are used. Toner and paper particles, toxic gases such as nitrogen dioxide and ozone are launched into a worker’s breathing space. (2) Toxicity studies have shown that the particulates that are inhaled have poor solubility and accumulate in the lungs. What follows can be a number of health complaints: headache, fatigue, breathlessness, allergic reactions, and respiratory problems – some quite severe. (3)
While most printers and copiers emit toxins and particulates at levels that are at or under recommended exposure levels, contact over a prolonged period of time can inflict long-term health effects.
What to Do About It
These studies don’t suggest that people stop using copiers or printers, as that would be vastly impractical advice. Office equipment like copying and printing machines are both essential in running a business. Minimizing exposure to equipment emissions is the only means of protecting the health of employees (4) and can be done easily, and cost-effectively:
Employee workspaces should be located in areas that are well ventilated
Air should recirculate with fresh air blended with the indoor source
Equipment, when possible, should be located away from employee workspaces (5)
In cases where emissions and/or worker health has already been compromised, the use of air cleaning systems should be employed
At AIR Systems Inc., we serve our customers who work in office environments by providing indoor air quality management solutions. Our air impurity removal systems remove air impurities for the health and peace of mind of both employee and business owner.
While smoke and fumes are easily pinpointed as a cause of poor indoor air quality, there is a hidden danger that building occupants and workers might not be aware of and it could be inadvertently affecting their health. Known as volatile organic compounds, this potentially harmful substance is found in chemicals located around offices and other building areas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. VOCs could be lurking in a building’s carpet or furnishings.
In addition to office spaces, items that can give off VOCs include paints, paint thinner and aerosol sprays. Offices are not the only structures that contain VOCs as other buildings such as laboratories, print shops, art rooms and more contain have VOCs and related odors. Even products that seem to be safe, such as air fresheners and dry-cleaned clothing contain VOCs.
These chemical contaminants are known to evaporate into the air, affecting the air quality and subsequently the health of those breathing in this environment. Since VOCs are released into the air, the air quality inside of a building could be exacerbated due to the concentration of chemicals in a confined space.
“Tests have shown that indoor concentrations of VOCs can be two to five times higher than outdoor concentrations,” the Natural Resources Defense Council said. “Immediately after the application of a high-VOC-emitting product, indoor levels can be more than 1,000 times higher than outdoor levels.”
According to the NRDC, high concentrations of VOCs are associated with various health issues, including headaches and itchy, watery or burning eyes. Severe symptoms of VOC chemical exposure also involve liver and nervous system damage and other health impacts might even include the development of cancer. VOCs also have the potential to harm the environment.
“In addition to the known health effects, VOCs are a principal ingredient of ground-level ozone, which in turn is a key component of urban smog,” NRDC said.
The NRDC adds that if companies purchase fewer items that have VOC emissions, they could help counteract the negative effects of these chemicals.
Steps to prevent the dangers of VOCs
There are a variety of ways employers can take a proactive approach toward limiting the amount of VOC exposure to workers.
Record complaints. As employers take chemical exposure from VOCs seriously, they should record and address any complaints about the indoor air quality of their building.
Choose products that emit low to no levels of VOCs. If possible, employers should choose items that have a limited amount of VOCs, including replacement carpets and substituting cleaners.
Correctly store cleaning products. Ensure cleaning chemicals are not placed near heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and be sure their containers are sealed.
Buy air filters. As a way to combat the presence of VOCs in an enclosed environment, employers can invest in gas and odor air filtration systems that have the ability to capture VOCs. Air cleaners are effective at removing other odors and chemicals.
Indoor air pollution and air quality news brought to you by Air Impurities Removal Systems, Inc.
Dostoevsky said, “There is not a thing more positive than bread.” Both nourishing and comforting, bread offers warmth and security to those who ingest it.” Yet, the safety and wellbeing of those who make it is in jeopardy. Illness associated with milling flour and baking bread was reported as far back as the 1700s when respiratory and allergy-related symptoms were first recorded. Modern-day immunological techniques that measure allergens have identified flour and grain as the root cause of allergic irritation, sensitization, and respiratory illness in bakers worldwide. Despite being the universal ingredient for baked goods, raw flour – when in dust form – is a hazardous substance.
The specific health condition suffered by those who labor in the baking or milling industries goes by numerous monikers. “Baker’s Lung”, “Baker’s Asthma”, and “Baker’s Allergy” are used interchangeably to describe significant respiratory problems suffered by those who are routinely exposed to grain and flour dust. Wheezing, productive coughing, chest tightness, eye and nose irritation can present in anyone who comes in contact with these particulates. In cases of regular occupational exposure, symptoms of chronic respiratory disease are not uncommon – asthma and other lung conditions are the most worrisome.
Unfortunately, workers in bakeries and milling facilities cannot avoid exposure as eliminating the source of risk, flour itself, is not an option. But there are ways to protect personnel from the health hazards associated with flour dust. Employees must routinely wear protective equipment (such as facemasks) and clean indoor air quality (IAQ) must be maintained with vigilance. The most successful means of guaranteeing a clean air environment is by controlling particulates via source capture, extraction, and ventilation.