(1-3)-B-D glucan exposure assessment in poultry farms in South Africa

Dayal, Payal
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Introduction: Poultry workers have an increased risk of respiratory symptoms associated with various irritant and allergenic exposures causing airway inflammation. This study investigated the levels of (1-3)-β-D glucan exposure in several poultry farming processes. The objectives involved categorising the different tasks undertaken in the poultry industry. After which a method was established and validated to detect and quantify the levels of (1-3)-β-D glucan using the Glucatell assay. This assay was used to measure the amount of (1-3)-β-D glucan poultry farm workers were exposed to using personal sampling. Thereafter, general respiratory symptoms were described briefly via the administration of a respiratory questionnaire. Method: A total of 308 personal air samples were collected from several poultry farming processes (rearing, laying, hatchery, broilers, catching) of a large poultry farm in the North West Province. A walkthrough checklist was used to obtain information on various exposure determinants such as farm size, number of chickens, ventilation system, bedding material used and poultry feed used. The Glucatell assay (Associates of Cape Cod, East Falmouth, MA, USA) was used to quantify the concentration of (1-3)-β-D glucans in the air samples. Results: The geometric mean concentrations of (1-3)-β-D glucans ranged from 24.38 to 645.98 ng/m3 across the various poultry farming processes investigated. Workers in the broiler farms were exposed to two times higher levels of (1-3)-β-D glucans compared to those in the breeding farms. The sizes of the broiler farm houses as well as the age of the chickens were among the main determinants of exposure. The larger broiler farm houses (GM=5.2 ng/m3, GSD=3.74) had significantly (p<0.05) lower levels than the smaller broiler farm houses (GM=6.4 ng/m3, GSD=2.14) whilst houses with older chickens had higher (1-3)-β-D glucan levels (G=5.8 ng/m3,