Chapter 3.2.6 : Airborne Bacteria, Archaea, and Endotoxin

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Airborne bacteria and their associated immunomodulatory ligands, best exemplified by endotoxin, are present in bioactive concentrations in many occupational and some non-occupational environments. Especially high concentrations are found in agricultural settings and in industrial operations handling or processing wet organic matter. Human exposure to these agents induces a variety of respiratory conditions including asthma, asthma-like syndrome, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, organic dust toxic syndrome and pulmonary infections. Endotoxin is an integral component of the bacterial cell membrane and is well-recognized as a potent inducer of lung inflammation. However, low-dose exposure has also been shown to reduce the potential for development of allergic rhinitis and eosinophilic asthma. This chapter presents a critical examination of current knowledge of concentrations and exposures to airborne bacteria and endotoxin in over twenty-five environments. It describes the resulting burden of disease ascertained through epidemiologic studies conducted worldwide. Included in the chapter are detailed methods for the assessment of exposures to endotoxin. New science relating to occupational exposures to the Archaea are also presented along with molecular methods for their identification and quantitation.

Citation: Thorne P, Duchaine C, Lecours P. 2016. Airborne Bacteria, Archaea, and Endotoxin, p 3.2.6-1-3.2.6-20. In Yates M, Nakatsu C, Miller R, Pillai S (ed), Manual of Environmental Microbiology, Fourth Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818821.ch3.2.6
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