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Advancing Open Science for more than 25 years

Biological Agents - A Potential Occupational Hazard

Abstract: Bioaerosols are a mixture of agents like bacteria and their metabolic products, fungal toxins,
α-1,3-glucans, viruses, gases, vapors or fragments of biological origin. Several biological agents affect large
occupational groups causing acute and chronic infections, parasitism, cancer, toxic and allergic reactions, etc.
Respiratory symptoms and lung function impairments are the most widely studied bioaerosol associated health
effects. Other occupations with abundant bioaerosol exposures include veterinarians, health care workers,
workers of the food industry, cotton and flex industries, wood industry, metal working industry, paper industry,
detergent industry, biotechnology workers, sewage workers, bakery workers, workers collecting and recycling
waste. So far occupational exposure limit (OEL) and dose response relationships have not been established for
most biological agents because of diversity of the particular agent exposure and the susceptibility of human
beings to those biological agents (e.g., Genetic polymorphism). Further, methods to assess bioaerosol exposures
prove to be of limited use in population studies. Therefore, extensive research is needed to establish better
exposure assessment tools and to validate newly developed methods.