Aflatoxin Exposure In Grain Workers

Aflatoxins are very carcinogenic (cancer causing) chemicals produced by several Aspergillus species. Aspergillus growth and mycotoxin contamination is common in poorly stored human and animal foodstuffs- especially corn and peanuts.

Abida Malik et al. Occupational exposure to Aspergillus and aflatoxins among grain-food workers in India. Int J Occup Environ Health 2014;20:189-93.

Agricultural workers are often exposed to significant levels of aflatoxins in the dust from grains and peanuts. An Indian study reported significant levels of aflatoxins in the lung fluids (bronchoaveolar lavage) of 33% of 44 food-grain workers and 2% of 46 controls. Detectable blood levels of alfatoxins were found in 25% of the food grain workers and in 9% of controls Chronic respiratory symptoms- such as cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain- were reported in 41% of the food-grain workers and 7% of the controls. 

Airborne exposure to aflatoxins in grain handlers can be reduced by better grain storage methods to prevent aflatoxin production, better grain handling techniques to reduce airborne dust, and use of masks to reduce airborne exposures.



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