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Current control standards for tasks with high exposure to grain dust

Six sectors of the British grain industry were investigated to try to identify and characterise exposure-significant tasks in terms of the inhalable dust, microorganism, endotoxin and mycotoxin exposures associated with these tasks. Information was collected from stakeholders in the industry by telephone interviews and during visits to company premises. In addition, the available scientific literature was reviewed to identify relevant exposure data.

It was judged that some cleaning activities and certain process tasks may create airborne inhalable dust levels in excess of the British Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL) of 10 mg m-3. Long-term average levels are probably generally less than about 3 mg m-3, with perhaps 15 to 20% of individual exposures above the WEL. Endotoxin levels were judged likely to be less than 104 EU m-3 throughout the industry provided inhalable dust levels are less than 10 mg m-3. There is no published exposure data on mycotoxin, respirable crystalline silica and mite contamination but these are not considered to present widespread problems in the British industry.

Further improvements in control technology and the use of respiratory protection are needed in some sectors of the industry.

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 2010-12-16