Volume 33, Issue 4,
, Pages 964-973
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Factors affecting occupational hygiene were measured at the solid waste transferring plant at Hyvinkää and at the optic separation plant in Hämeenlinna. Measurements consisted of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and bioaerosols including microbes, dust and endotoxins.
The most abundant compounds in both of the plants were aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons, esters of carboxylic acids, ketones and terpenes. In terms of odour generation, the most important emissions were acetic acid, 2,3-butanedione, ethyl acetate, alpha-pinene and limonene due to their low threshold odour concentrations. At the optic waste separation plant, limonene occurred at the highest concentration of all single compounds of identified VOCs. The concentration of any single volatile organic compound did not exceed the occupational exposure limit (OEL) concentration. However, 2,3-butanedione as a health risk compound is discussed based on recent scientific findings linking it to lung disease.
Microbe and dust concentrations were low at the waste transferring plant. Only endotoxin concentrations may cause health problems; the average concentration inside the plant was 425EU/m3 which clearly exceeded the threshold value of 90EU/m3. In the wheel loader cabin the endotoxin concentrations were below 1EU/m3. High microbial and endotoxin concentrations were measured in the processing hall at the optic waste separation plant. The average concentration of endotoxins was found to be 10,980EU/m3, a concentration which may cause health risks. Concentrations of viable fungi were quite high in few measurements in the control room. The most problematic factor was endotoxins whose average measured concentrations was 4853EU/m3.
► Odorous VOCs: acetic acid, 2,3-butanedione, ethyl acetate, alpha-pinene and limonene. ► VOC concentrations did not exceed occupational exposure limit concentrations. ► 2,3-Butanedione as the health effecting compound is discussed. ► Endotoxin concentrations may cause health problems in waste treatment.
In Finland the separation and recycling of paper and board products, and later hazardous waste, metal and glass, have long traditions. Furthermore, in the late 1990s Finland adopted the source separation of kitchen biowaste as its main household waste treatment method. It requires that all food wastes are sorted to a separate bin. The bin is then collected centrally and its contents mainly composted. The remaining household waste fraction is labelled dry waste. After additional treatment at waste treatment plants the dry waste produces a rather pure fuel (recycled energy fuel, or REF) for incineration.
Handling and management of dry waste and biowaste offer a potential emission route for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and bioaerosols emitted from waste material as metabolic products of microbial activity during the aerobic or anaerobic decomposition processes. Some of these compounds and bioaerosols may present a health hazard especially for employees (Domingo and Nadal, 2009). The impact of waste management on the environment and employees is nowadays recognised as a growing environmental and public health-related concern (Giusti, 2009). In the last decade and especially in recent years the interest in occupational health issues and odours in waste management has grown in Europe because of the rapid adoption of mechanical–biological treatment (Biasioli et al., 2004). Several studies concerning VOCs, as a source of odour, and bioaerosols emissions from landfills and composting as the health-affecting factors have been conducted all over Europe (Pierucci et al., 2005, Chiriac et al., 2007, Persoons et al., 2010, Scaglia et al., 2011, Vilavert et al., 2012) and in Asia (Zou et al., 2003, Majumdar and Srivastava, 2012).
Most Finnish waste treatment plants use state-of-the-art technology because it offers a more effective way to treat waste and the emissions to the environment are limited (Tolvanen et al., 1998). However, concentrations of bioaerosols and volatile and odorous organic compounds in the working air are most likely much higher in closed treatment plants than in open systems. Processes are generally automated but during maintenance procedures employees may have to work in waste processing areas where there is an elevated risk of exposure to VOCs and bioaerosols. In previous studies mixed waste, including dry waste with residual biowaste, energy waste and wood resulted in high concentrations of fungi in the ambient air (Tolvanen, 2004, Persoons et al., 2010, Vilavert et al., 2012; Kiviranta et al., 1999). Based on this research (Tolvanen, 2004, Tolvanen et al., 2005) there is a strong possibility of occupational exposure to microbes, VOCs and unacceptable odour when biowaste is handled along with other waste fractions.
Bioaerosols cause health effects especially in the upper airways (Bunger et al., 2002, Heldal et al., 2003). Other health effects are allergies and asthma and different kinds of symptoms from exposure like fever, muscle ache, headache and irritation of the eyes (Poulsen et al., 1995). Endotoxin inhalation especially may cause dry cough and shortness of breath accompanied by decreased lung function, fever reactions and malaise, and sometimes dyspnoea, headache and joint aches occurring within a few hours of exposure. Chronic endotoxin exposure may lead to chronic bronchitis and reduced lung function. (Nordic Expert Group for Criteria Documentation of Health Risks, 2011). In addition, high concentrations of VOCs and bioaerosols are known to be harmful to human health and synergetic effects and their relevance in working environments is still insufficiently studied (Fischer and Dott, 2003). In high concentrations VOCs are known to cause direct reactions like sensory irritation on mucosa of the eyes, nose and throat and some non-specific symptoms like headache (Mølhave et al., 1991, Smeets and Dalton, 2005). Some studies show that moderately large concentrations of several VOCs may cause symptoms like headache, eye and skin irritation (Mølhave et al., 1991). There are still contradictory findings regarding whether moderately low concentrations of VOCs affect human health and this subject has been studied in indoor air and occupational health exposure cases. Furthermore, several non-sensory factors like mental models, bias, psychosocial factors and personality variables that influence odour and irritation perception are important to take into account (Shusterman et al., 1991, Smeets and Dalton, 2005).
Moreover, odour, caused by several VOCs, is a general problem at many waste management plants, and is a key factor when it comes to employee satisfaction or local perception in residential areas in the vicinity of waste management plants (Aatamila et al., 2011). Odour problems are more likely to occur if residual biowaste are present in the waste management process. It is common that odours and irritating odour-causing VOCs may elicit physical effects and concern about them even if their concentrations are below those where toxicity may be expected (Smeets and Dalton, 2005). Symptoms in these cases include feelings of memory loss, confusion and weakness, difficulty in making decisions and joint pain.
The limitations of traditional instrumental techniques have led to odour measurement procedures that rely on the use of the human nose as a detector (Brattoli et al., 2011). The most sensitive and broad range odour detector is undoubtedly the mammalian olfactory system that has developed through millions of years of biological evolution. In the case of foul odours, the human olfactory has remained comparable to most of the other mammals. Therefore, in odour determination, the combined GC–MS–olfaction (GC–MS–O) or GC–MS–Sniff technique has been also introduced in recent years, especially in food and aroma chemistry research (Plutowska and Wardencki, 2008) but also in environmental research (Zarra et al., 2009, Lehtinen and Veijanen, 2011). GC–MS–O allows a deeper understanding about odour composition and about the odour characteristics of individual compounds (Veijanen, 1990, Friedrich and Acree, 1998, Van Ruth, 2001, Lo et al., 2008).
The aim of this study was to determine VOCs, odour causing compounds and bioaerosols in problematic working areas at the two plants in question to estimate the level of exposure for employees. In this study the concentrations of VOCs and bioaerosols are compared to the occupational exposure limits set by The Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (USA) and Dutch Expert Committee on Occupational Safety (DECOS). These values can be used as a guideline in assessing the risk of occupational exposure to particular compounds. However, these guidelines cover an 8-h period of exposure. Therefore, the presumption of occupational exposure is set to consider a entire 8-h workday. Additionally, it is assumed that employees work in the worst areas (areas of highest exposure). It is also assumed that the measured VOC concentration in the process halls and process sites remains the same for the whole workday. In this way a comparison of results to the 8-h OEL values is the most straightforward. However, this represents a worse-case situation and normally conditions for employees are better. Therefore these ambient measurements cannot be directly compared to individual sampling and the OEL values are used as suggestive risk indicators.
The two municipal solid waste treatment (MSW) plants studied here are the optic sorting plant in Hämeenlinna and the waste transferring plant in Hyvinkää. At the time of the study, energy waste was sorted at homes to white plastic bags, and the rest of the waste (mainly kitchen biowaste) to black plastic bags in the cities of Hämeenlinna and Hyvinkää. The biowaste fraction and the non-energy waste fraction bags had to be separated from the energy waste bags. This was performed at the
Results and discussion
The concentrations of the most abundant and/or odorous volatile organic compounds at the Hämeenlinna plant process hall and in control room as well as in the Hyvinkää waste receiving hall are presented in Table 2.
This study focused on examining the bioaerosols and VOCs in municipal solid waste plants and thereby assessing the possible health risks through exposure to them. An objective was also to determine the most odorous compounds these plants.
The most abundant compounds in both of the plants were aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons, esters of carboxylic acids, ketones and terpenes. In terms of odour generation, the most important emissions were acetic acid, 2,3-butanedione, ethyl acetate,
This study was supported by the Finnish Work Environment Fund. The authors would like to thank the employees at the studied plants for their co-operation and assistance during the measurements.
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Domestic waste composting facilities: a review of human health risks
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Characterisation of VOCs emitted by open cells receiving municipal solid waste
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PTR-MS monitoring of odour emissions from composting plants
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New sampler for the collection, sizing and enumeration of viable airborne particles
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Odour detection methods: olfactory and chemical sensors
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Microbial contamination in waste collection: Unveiling this Portuguese occupational exposure scenario
2022, Journal of Environmental Management
Previous studies anticipated that microorganisms and their metabolites in waste will increase as a consequence of a decreased collection frequency and due to differences in what kind of waste is bagged before collection leading to an increased exposure of workers handling the waste. This study aim was to investigate the microbial contamination present in the waste collection trucks (WCT) and in the support facilities (waste collection station - WCS). It was applied a multi-approach protocol using active (air sampling by impingement and impaction) and passive (surface swabs, electrostatic dust cloths and settled dust) sampling methods. The screening of azole-resistance, the investigation of mycotoxins and the assessment of the elicited biological responses in vitro were also carried out aiming recognizing the possible health effects of waste collection drivers. SARS-CoV-2 detection was also performed. In WCS only air samples had contamination in all the four sampling sites (canteen, operational removal core, operational removal center, and administrative service). Among all the analyzed matrices from the WCT a higher percentage of total bacterial counts and Gram-was detected in swabs (66.93%; 99.36%). In WCS the most common species were Penicillium sp. (43.98%) and Cladosporium sp. (24.68%), while on WCT Aspergillus sp. (4.18%) was also one of the most found. In the azole resistance screening Aspergillus genera was not observed in the azole-supplemented media. SARS-CoV-2 was not detected in any of the environmental samples collected, but Aspergillus section Fumigati was detected in 5 samples. Mycotoxins were not detected in EDC from WCS, while in WCT they were detected in filters (N=1) and in settled dust samples (N=16). In conclusion, our study reveals that a comprehensive sampling approach using active and passive sampling (e.g. settled dust sampling for a representative mycotoxin evaluation) and combined analytic methods (i.e., culture-based and molecular) is an important asset in microbial exposure assessments. Concerning the waste collection exposure scenario, the results of this study unveiled a complex exposure, particularly to fungi and their metabolites. Aspergillus section Fumigati highlight the significance of targeting this section in the waste management industry as an indicator of occupational health risk.
Spatial and temporal variation of endotoxin concentrations at composting facilities in one of the largest solid waste management facilities in the Middle East
2022, Process Safety and Environmental Protection
Composting activities at open-air facilities can be a source of contaminants including bioaerosols. Exposure to bioaerosols and their constituents can have a potential impact on those involved in waste management and those living in the vicinity of such facilities. This study aims to investigate the temporal and spatial variation in endotoxin concentrations as a biohazard at waste composting facilities in one of the largest municipal solid waste management complexes in the Middle East. The total suspended solids (TSP) and airborne endotoxin were collected by the active method using a pump with an airflow rate of 2L/min, and 37-mm glass fiber filters. TSP was determined by gravimetry, and then extraction was done in pyrogen-free containers by adding 0.05% Tween 20 in 10ml of PFW (Pyrogen Free Water), and the endotoxin concentration was determined by the Limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL) method. The results showed high concentrations of endotoxins in composting processes. The highest mean concentrations of ambient air TSP were found in granulation sites (2937µg/m3) and preprocessing halls (998µg/m3) and the lowest in the windrow sites (302µg/m3). The average concentration of endotoxin in the ambient air of granulation, pre-processing and post-processing sites were 48.3, 17.8, and 10.6 times the mean concentrations in the windrow sites, respectively. A significant difference was found in endotoxin and TSP levels between five locations (P=0.001 and 0.008 respectively), and spatial variation was observed in this study. A good correlation was observed between reported endotoxin concentration and airborne dust (r=0.797) in composting plant. The evidence provided by this study will help the operators of facilities to be aware of the pollution of different locations involved in composting, and regulators to focus on improving risk assessments at these facilities and also take precautions where a high level of contaminants is reported.
Bioaerosol Exposure and in vitro Activation of Toll-like Receptors in a Norwegian Waste Sorting Plant
2022, Safety and Health at Work
The global shift towardgreener societies demands new technologies and work operations in the waste-management sector. However, progressive industrial methods do not necessarily consider workers’ health. This study characterized workers' exposure to bioaerosols and investigated the bioaerosols’ potential to engage the immune system invitro.
Full shift personal aerosol sampling was conducted over three consecutive days. Dust load was analyzed by gravimetry, fungal and actinobacterial spores were analyzed by scanning electron microscopy, and endotoxin by limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL) assay. Invitro exposure of HEK cells to airborne dust samples was used to investigate the potential of inducing an inflammatory reaction.
The total dust exposure level exceeded the recommended occupational exposure limit (OEL) of 5.0mg/m3 in 3 out of 15 samples. The inhalable endotoxin level exceeded the recommended exposure level by a 7-fold, whereas the fungal spore level exceeded the recommended exposure level by an 11-fold. Actinobacterial spores were identified in 8 out of 14 samples. Invitro experiments revealed significant TLR2 activation in 9 out of 14 samplesvs. significant TLR4 activation in all samples.
The present study showed that the dust samples contained potentially health-impairing endotoxin, fungi, and actinobacterial levels. Furthermore, the sampled dust contained microbial components capable of inducing TLR activationand thus have the potential to evoke an inflammatory response in exposed individuals.
Health symptoms and inflammatory blood biomarkers from exposure of recyclable waste workers to particulate matter and bioaerosols
2022, Atmospheric Pollution Research
This study aimed to investigate the possible association between exposure to particulate matter (PM) and bioaerosols with health symptoms and levels of inflammatory blood biomarkers in workers at a Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) in Brazil, compared to a control population of the Federal University of Technology – Parana (UTFPR). A total of 64 volunteers freely agreed to participate in this study, 40 MRF workers (exposed group) and 24 UTFPR staff and students (control group). We applied questionnaires and collected blood samples in November 2018, while PM and bioaerosols (bacteria and fungi) samplings occurred in February 2019at four different sampling sites: at the MRF, in a waste processing shed (P1) and outdoors (P2); at UTFPR, in a classroom (P3) and the outdoor environment (P4). P1 was the most contaminated site with the highest mean values for PM1.0, PM2.5, PM10 (respectively, 5.7, 27.4, and 562.4μgm−3), and bacteria (1830.7colony-forming units per cubic meter – CFU m−3). For fungi, P4 presented the highest mean concentration (3218.1CFUm−3). The main microorganisms observed in indoor samples (P1 and P3) were Gram-positive bacteria and fungi Aspergillus spp. Exposure to PM2.5, PM10, bacteria, and fungi may increase the possibility of some respiratory, circulatory, and allergy symptoms among MRF workers. The blood samples showed mixed results; IFN-γ was statistically significant between the two groups and lower for the exposed group. Overall, the study presents a reasonably accurate assessment of air quality and health problems for MRF workers.
Microbiological and toxicological hazard assessment in a waste sorting plant and proper respiratory protection
2022, Journal of Environmental Management
Even though biological hazards in the work environments related to waste management were the subject of many scientific works, the knowledge of the topic is not extensive. This study aimed to conduct a comprehensive assessment of microbiological and toxicological hazards at the workstations in a waste sorting plant and develop guidelines for selecting filtering respiratory protective devices that would consider specific workplace conditions. The research included the assessment of quantity (culture method), diversity (high-throughput sequencing), and metabolites (endotoxin - gas chromatography-mass spectrometry; secondary metabolites - liquid chromatography tandem-mass spectrometry) of microorganisms occurring in the air and settled dust. Moreover, cytotoxicity of settled dust against a human epithelial lung cell line was determined with an MTT (3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide) assay. The research was performed in a waste sorting plant (Poland; 240,000 tons waste/year) at six workstations: two feeders, two pre-sorting cabins, secondary raw material press and organic fraction waste feeder for composting.
The total dust concentration at tested workstations varied from 0.128mgm−3 to 5.443mgm−3. The number of microorganisms was between 9.23×104CFUm−3 and 1.38×105CFUm−3 for bacteria and between 1.43×105CFUm−3 and 1.65×105CFUm−3 for fungi, which suggests high microbial contamination of the sorting facility. The numbers of microorganisms in the air correlated very strongly (R2 from 0.70 to 0.94) with those observed in settled dust. Microorganisms representing Group 2 biological agents (acc. to Directive, 2000/54/EC), including Corynebacterium spp., Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, and others potentially hazardous to human health, were identified. The endotoxins concentration in settled dust ranged from 0.013nmol LPS mg−1 to 0.048nmol LPS mg−1. Seventeen (air) and 91 (settled dust) secondary metabolites characteristic, e.g., for moulds, bacteria, lichens, and plants were identified. All dust samples were cytotoxic (IC50 values of 8.66 and 56.15mgml−1 after 72h). A flowchart of respiratory protective devices selection for biological hazards at the workstations in the waste sorting plant was proposed based on the completed tests to help determine the right type and use duration of the equipment.
One-year follow-up of microbial diversity in bioaerosols emitted in a waste sorting plant in France
2021, Waste Management
Bioaerosols emitted in waste sorting plants (WSP) can induce some adverse health effects on the workers such as rhinitis, asthma and hypersensitivity pneumonitis. The composition of these bioaerosols is scarcely known and most of the time assessed using culture-dependent methods. Due to the well-known limitations of cultural methods, these biodiversity measurements underestimate the actual microbial taxon richness. The aim of the study was to assess the airborne microbial biodiversity by using a sequencing method in a French waste sorting plant (WSP) for one year and to investigate the main factors of variability of this biodiversity. Static sampling was performed in five areas in the plant and compared to an indoor reference (IR), using closed-face cassettes (10 L.min−1) with polycarbonate membranes, every month for one year. Environmental data was measured (temperature, relative humidity). After DNA extraction, microbial biodiversity was assessed by means of sequencing. Bacterial genera Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Prevotella, Lactococcus, Lactobacillus, Pseudomonas and fungal genera Wallemia, Cladosporium, Debaryomyces, Penicillium, Alternaria were the most predominant airborne microorganisms. Microbial biodiversity was different in the plant compared to the IR and seemed to be influenced by the season.
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