A detailed literature search was carried out to summarise evidence about respiratory disease caused by exposure to
grain dust. Long term epidemiological studies examining the
risk for respiratory disease in grain workers were undertaken
in Canada and the USA from the 1970s to the late 1990s.
Smaller studies were undertaken in the UK and Europe but
mostly focussed on respiratory disease in arable and
The conclusion of this review is that the damaging effects of
grain dust on the respiratory tract are accumulative and
occur at high concentrations of exposure. Acute responses
also occur and include declines in lung function as well as
irritation and inflammation of the airways. There is less
evidence that grain dust exposure causes occupational
asthma despite the dusts containing allergens. This may be
due to a ‘healthy worker’ effect with those already having, or
developing, asthma leaving employment earlier than others.
There is stronger evidence that the long term effects of
exposure include emphysema, chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease and interstitial fibrosis of the lung. The
risk of developing extrinsic allergic alveolitis has reduced
through preventing damp conditions in stored grain.
- Full report
Assistance in the use of Adobe Acrobat PDF files is available on our FAQs page.
Article source: http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrhtm/rr1083.htm