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RR655: Exposure to dust and bioaerosols in poultry farming: Summary of observations and data

This project aimed to investigate poultry farm workers’ exposure to organic dusts and associated microbiological contamination as part of the HSE Disease Reduction Programme.

The UK poultry industry (mainly the production of hens’ eggs and chicken, turkey and duck meats) involves a range of activities including laying litter, populating with young birds, depopulating (reducing bird density during growth or removing at the end of the cycle), litter/manure removal, cleaning houses after depopulation and routine ‘crop maintenance’ and housework. The objective of this study was to measure workers’ exposure to airborne dust and bioaerosols (micro-organisms and their products) associated with these tasks in a representative cross-section of commercial poultry production.

Previous studies have tended to provide only an overview of agriculture workers’ exposure to bioaerosols. However, this is of limited use in assessing health risks, because of the diversity of tasks at different times of the day, week or season. Workers’ exposure to dust and bioaerosols is certain to differ according to the task being performed. Therefore HSE was interested to obtain measurement data and to relate exposure measurements to specific tasks.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2010-01-27