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Endotoxin in Size-Separated Metal Working Fluid Aerosol Particles

Journal article
Authors Anna Dahlman-Höglund
Åsa Lindgren
Inger Mattsby-Baltzer
Published in Annals of Occupational Hygiene
Volume 60
Issue 7
Pages 836-844
ISSN 0003-4878
Publication year 2016
Published at Institute of Medicine, School of Public Health and Community Medicine
Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Infectious Medicine
Pages 836-844
Language en
Keywords aerosol, endotoxin, metal working fluid, size fraction
Subject categories Environmental Health and Occupational Health, Environmental Sciences, Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences


Patients with airway symptoms working in metal working industries are increasing, despite efforts to improve the environmental air surrounding the machines. Our aim was to analyse the amount of endotoxin in size-separated airborne particles of metal working fluid (MWF) aerosol, by using the personal sampler Sioutas cascade impactor, to compare filter types, and to compare the concentration of airborne endotoxin to that of the corresponding MWFs. In a pilot field study, aerosols were collected in two separate machine halls on totally 10 occasions, using glass fibre and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) filters in parallel at each station. Airborne endotoxin was distributed over all size fractions. While a major part was found in the largest size fraction (72%, 2.5-10 μm), up to 8% of the airborne endotoxin was detected in the smallest size fraction (<0.25 μm). Comparing the efficiency of the filter types, a significantly higher median endotoxin level was found with glass fibres filters collecting the largest particle-size fraction (1.2-fold) and with PTFE filters collecting the smallest ones (5-fold). The levels of endotoxin in the size-separated airborne particle fractions correlated to those of the MWFs supporting the aerosol-generating machines. Our study indicates that a significant part of inhalable aerosols of MWFs consists of endotoxin-containing particles below the size of intact bacteria, and thus small enough to readily reach the deepest part of the lung. Combined with other chemical irritants of the MWF, exposure to MWF aerosols containing endotoxin pose a risk to respiratory health problems. © 2016 The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Occupational Hygiene Society.

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