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  • Author: Ana Monteiro x
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Occupational exposure to bioburden in Portuguese bakeries: an approach to sampling viable microbial load

Abstract

In bakeries, a number of operations such as mixing are associated with exposure to air-suspended flour dust and related bioburden. The aim of this study was to find the best active sampling approach to the assessment of occupational exposure to bioburden in Portuguese bakeries based on the data obtained with the use of specific impaction and impinger devices. We used impaction to collect fungal particles from 100 L air samples onto malt extract agar (MEA) supplemented with chloramphenicol (0.05 %). For growing fungi we also used dichloran glycerol (DG18) agar-based media and for mesophilic bacteria we used tryptic soy agar (TSA) supplemented with nystatin (0.2 %). For Enterobacteriaceae we used violet red bile agar (VRBA). With impingers we also collected 300 L air samples at the 300 L/min airflow rate, inoculated onto the same culture media. The two methods, impaction and impinger, showed statistically significant differences in the following counts: fungal on MEA (z=-2.721, p=0.007), fungal on DG18 (z=-4.830, p=0.000), total bacteria (z=-5.435, p=0.000), and Gram-negative coliforms (z=-3.716, p=0.000). In all cases the impaction method detected significantly higher concentrations than the impinger method. Fungal and bacterial loads were higher in the production unit and lower in the shop. The fungal load obtained with impaction varied between 10 and 5140 CFU m-3, and total bacterial counts ranged between 10 and 4120 CFU m-3. This study has shown that the impaction method is the best active sampling approach to assessing viable bioburden in this specific occupational environment, but a multi-faceted approach to sampling and analyses combining methods and media enables a more refined risk characterisation and, consequently, better tailored risk control measures to reduce adverse health outcomes in workers.

Open access
Organic dust exposure in veterinary clinics: a case study of a small-animal practice in Portugal

Abstract

Literature about occupational health in small-animal veterinary practices is scarce, but most of it has recognised a number of risks to be considered, including organic dust exposure. The aim of this pilot study was to assess organic dust, bacterial, and fungal contamination in the indoor environment of a typical Portuguese veterinary clinic but also to screen for azoleresistant fungi. To complement these findings we also analysed workers’ nasal exudates for resistant bacteriota. Particles measurements included mass concentrations (PMC) of five particle sizes (PM0.5, PM1, PM2.5, PM5, PM10) and their counts (PNC). Indoor air samples were obtained from six locations as well as before and during cat dental cleaning and cultured on four media for bacterial and fungal assessment. An outdoor sample was also collected for reference Surface samples were taken from the same indoor locations using swabs and we also use electrostatic dust cloths as passive methods. PM10 showed the highest concentrations across the locations. Indoor air fungal loads ranged from 88 to 504 CFU m−3. The azole-resistant Aspergillus section Nigri was identified in one sample. Indoor air bacterial loads ranged from 84 to 328 CFU m-3. Nasopharyngeal findings in the 14 veterinary clinic workers showed a remarkably low prevalence of Staphylococcus aureus (7.1 %). Our results point to contamination with organic dusts above the WHO limits and to the need for better ventilation. Future studies should combine the same sampling protocol (active and passive methods) with molecular tools to obtain more accurate risk characterisation. In terms of prevention, animals should be caged in rooms separate from where procedures take place, and worker protection should be observed at all times.

Open access
The accuracy of the heat index to explain the excess of mortality and morbidity during heat waves – a case study in a mediterranean climate

Abstract

The aim of this contribution was to evaluate the accuracy of a well known human comfort index, the heat index, to anticipate the effects of the July 2006 heat wave in mortality (all causes) and morbidity (all causes, respiratory and circulatory disease). Our assessment was done to all citizens, to people of the 75+ cohort and to each gender, in Porto. For further statistical analysis, we calculated an expected number of admissions by averaging the admissions recorded during the comparison period. The 95% confidence interval was calculated, using a standard method based on the t-distribution, for differences between independent means with different population variances, using the Leveane test to evaluate the variance’s homogeneity. During the 2006 heat wave, a 52% mortality excess was registered relatively to the expected mortality (p < 0.001), for all cohorts of the population. The admissions excess for all ages included the admissions due to respiratory diseases (p < 0.029), pneumonia (p < 0.001) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (p < 0.001). For the 75+ cohort, the admissions due to respiratory diseases (p < 0.017), pneumonia (p < 0.001) and heart failure (p < 0.610) were also statistically high. The obtained results confirm that the heat index is a truthful method to anticipate the negative impacts of heat waves in human health even in climate contexts adapted to hot summers like at Porto - a Mediterranean tempered climate. The impacts of July 2006’s heat wave in the increase of mortality (all causes) and in respiratory morbidity (all population and 75+cohort) was evident.

Open access