OPEN Research Support

Clinical Associate Professor
Jesper Bælum
Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Odense University Hospital

Projekt styring
Projekt status    Sampling finished
Data indsamlingsdatoer
Start 01.04.2010  
Slut 30.06.2013  

Organic dust in greenhouses - a health problem?

Short summary

The purpose of this study is to examine the health-related impact of exposure to organic dust in employees of nursery gardens as well as to develop and test preventive measures.


Organic dust, also known as bio-aerosols is defined as aerosols or particles of microbial, plant or animal origin. Organic dust can thus contain allergens (for example from fungi, invertebrates and pollen), toxins (myco-toxins from fungi) and proinflammatories.

Exposure to organic dust in various work environments have repeatedly been shown to have health consequences, among others, in the form of rhinitis, asthma, allergic alveolitis, and IgE mediated allergy.

The primary purpose is:

  • To xamine the health-related impact of exposure to organic dust in employees of nursery gardens as well as to develop and test preventive measures.
The secondary purposes are to:

  • To investigate airway response to exposure to organic dust in vegetable and flower nurseries, hereunder an evaluation of inflammatory and allergic processes.
  • To identify the processes and activities in the work processes that lead to high exposure.
  • To develop, test and demonstrate methods for reducing the level of exposure in critical work processes.
  • To document that the use of these methods leads to reduced inflammatory response in the employees' respiratory tract.

                Description of the cohort

                Our goal is to recruit 10 gardeners per nursery garden for checkup and portable exposure measurements.

                Inclusion criteria:

                • Employement for a minimum of 3 months from the date of inclusion
                • Age: minimum 18 years
                • Not in the treatment of asthma
                • No other treatment that may influence the measurement results (including immunomodulatory treatment such as oral corticosteroids, NSAIDs electricity. etc.)
                • Not pregnant

                Exclusion criteria:

                • Employment Termination
                • Disorder that causes prolonged absence from the workplace
                • Acute respiratory disease
                • Pregnancy

                Data and biological material

                In the week leading up to the actual health and exposure studies, the following basic tests are performed:

                • Participants are informed about the program of study, brought questionnaires are handed out and possible questions are discussed, consent forms are reviewed and signed (Only on the first study day).
                • Lung function test incl. methacholine challenge test
                • Introduction to Peak-flow and commissioning of monitoring every 2 -3 hours. Peak flow monitoring continues for 2 weeks incl. weekends.
                • Prick Test for 10 common allergens (Danish standard panel) and 4 storage mites and 1-2 useful animals. Prick test with standard panel is made only once, other allergens annually.

                Estimated total time per. person: 30 min.

                The following week, the following health screenings are performed on Monday morning (before starting work) and

                Thursday afternoon:

                • Spirometry (lung function test)
                • End exspiratory NO (indicator of inflammation in the lungs)
                • Blood from arm
                • nasal lavage

                Estimated total time per. person: Approximately 30 minutes.