Exposure to airborne fungi during sorting of recyclable plastics in waste treatment facilities
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Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Prague, Czech Republic (Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Department of Applied Ecology)
Charles University in Prague, Prague, Czech Republic (Faculty of Science, Department of Botany)
Academy of Sciences of Czech Republic, Průhonice, Czech Republic (Institute of Botany)
Online publication date: 2017-02-28
Corresponding author
Kristýna Černá   

Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Department of Applied Ecology, Kamýcká 129, 165 21 Prague 6 – Suchdol, Czech Republic
Med Pr Work Health Saf. 2017;68(1):1-9
Background: In working environment of waste treatment facilities, employees are exposed to high concentrations of airborne microorganisms. Fungi constitute an essential part of them. This study aims at evaluating the diurnal variation in concentrations and species composition of the fungal contamination in 2 plastic waste sorting facilities in different seasons. Material and Methods: Air samples from the 2 sorting facilities were collected through the membrane filters method on 4 different types of cultivation media. Isolated fungi were classified to genera or species by using a light microscopy. Results: Overall, the highest concentrations of airborne fungi were recorded in summer (9.1×103–9.0×105 colony-forming units (CFU)/m3), while the lowest ones in winter (2.7×103–2.9×105 CFU/m3). The concentration increased from the beginning of the work shift and reached a plateau after 6–7 h of the sorting. The most frequently isolated airborne fungi were those of the genera Penicillium and Aspergillus. The turnover of fungal species between seasons was relatively high as well as changes in the number of detected species, but potentially toxigenic and allergenic fungi were detected in both facilities during all seasons. Conclusions: Generally, high concentrations of airborne fungi were detected in the working environment of plastic waste sorting facilities, which raises the question of health risk taken by the employees. Based on our results, the use of protective equipment by employees is recommended and preventive measures should be introduced into the working environment of waste sorting facilities to reduce health risk for employees. Med Pr 2017;68(1):1–9
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