Session 5C – Exposure Assessment and Health Effects of Seafood Bioaerosols in the Fishing and Seafood Processing Industries

Tuesday, June 12, 9:00am – 10:30am, Arts and Administration Building, Room A1045

This is the first half of a double session. Please see Session 6C for part two.

This session follows on from the first international symposium on the topic organized by SafetyNet in Canada (2006) and subsequent symposia held at ICOH South Africa (2009), ODTS in Norway (2011) and ICOH Mexico (2012). It brings together researchers from various countries focusing their research on allergens and respiratory health among fishermen, seafarers and workers in the fishing and seafood processing industry.

Special areas of focus include: a) global trends in the fishing and seafood processing environment, work organisation and relevance to occupational exposures and health; b) epidemiology of occupational seafood associated allergy and asthma; c) characterisation of exposures to respiratory sensitisers in various occupational and geographical contexts; d) techniques for the identification of putative allergens; e) pathophysiological mechanisms involved; f) elucidation of exposure-response relationships.

The aim of the session is to share insights into investigations on the various aspects as outlined above, to deepen the understanding of the state of knowledge since the last symposium so as to develop better intervention strategies, identify new challenges and formulate future research directions.


5C.1  Exposure to bioaerosols during fish processing on board fishing trawlersCT Heidelberg, Berit Bang, Sandip Kamath, Andreas Lopata, AM Madsen, EU Høye, M Sandsund, Lisbeth Aasmoe

Aasmoe Lisbeth and colleagues will present data on their study of exposure to bioaerosols during fish processing among production workers on board fishing trawlers. Production workers processing fish on board deep-sea fishing trawlers were exposed to proteins, including trypsin and the major allergen parvalbumin. The bioaerosol levels varied between vessels, and were influenced by different processing techniques, catch type and size of production area, season, age of the trawlers, ventilation systems as well as work load.


5C.2  Snow Crab and Northern Shrimp Aeroallergens and Toxic Gases in Holds and on Decks of Newfoundland Coastal Fleet Fishing VesselsJudith Read Guernsey, Matthew Seaboyer, Robert Helleur, Anas Abdel Rahman (Presentation slides).

Shellfish aeroallergens and toxic gases in enclosed spaces of smaller North Atlantic maritime fishing vessels (< 20 meters length) represent under-characterized workplace hazards.  While scientists have shown that repeated exposures to workplace-related aerosolized shellfish proteinaceous allergens in seafood processing plants and on board larger seafood factory vessels increase the risk for allergic rhinitis and asthma, studies of these airborne exposures and air quality of smaller vessels have not been reported. This pilot investigation provides quantification of seafood-related proteinaceous aeroallergens and toxic gases concentrations in manually-ventilated holds and on decks from a small sample of Newfoundland and Labrador Coastal Fleet (NLCF) fishing vessels. Structured interviews of captains elucidated details about vessels, workforce characteristics (3-6 men), reported respiratory symptoms, and voyage length (9-151 hours). Snow crab (SC) and northern shrimp (NS) tropomyosin (TM) and arginine kinase (AK) allergens, toxic gases (H2S, NH3, CO, %O2) and temperature and humidity were measured.  Highest SCTM levels were 111.41 and 1.27 ng/m3 in holds and decks of SC vessels respectively; in contrast to NSTM concentrations of 250 and 150 pg/m3 observed in these locations on NS vessels. AK levels were below the limit of quantification in all vessels. Elevated H2S (~8 ppm) levels in two SC vessel holds and a decreased %O2 (17%)- elevated CO (4 ppm) event in one NS vessel hold were observed.  These findings support the need for more comprehensive investigations of aeroallergens and other respiratory exposures in relation to vessel ventilation and design that would serve to strengthen workplace prevention strategies for this vulnerable yet global industry.


5C.3  Exposure and health among Norwegian crab processing workersSandip Kamath, Andreas Lopata, Berit Bang, Lisbeth Aasmoe, Marte Thomassen

Marte Thomassen and colleagues will report on their study of exposure and health effects among Norwegian crab processing workers. This study investigated occupational exposure, the prevalence of respiratory symptoms and characterised allergic sensitisation in workers processing king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus) and edible crab (Cancer pagurus) in Norwegian processing plants. Workers were found to be exposed to bioaerosols with levels varying between processing procedures, crab types and processing plants, indicating a plant effect. With sensitisation and increased prevalence of respiratory symptoms but little reduction in lung function and less asthma than non-exposed controls, the investigators suggest a healthy worker effect among the crab processing workers investigated.


5C.4  High prevalences of allergy, asthma, and accidents in the seafood industry in Greenland – Sigsgaard, Torben, Ebbehøj, Niels, Carstensen, Ole, Rasmussen, Kurt, Jakob Hjort Bønløkke

Jakob Bonlokke and colleagues investigated allergic reactions, lung function, respiratory symptoms, and assessed the prevalence of work injuries in Greenland. The study found a high prevalence of allergy, asthma and accidents in the seafood industry. This study also indicated that prawn processing appears to cause less disease then crab processing, although it is not negligible. A very high prevalence of work-related injuries was also observed.


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