Risks associated with endotoxins
Occupational exposure to endotoxins poses a threat to employees that are situated in a broad range of workplaces. More specifically, places of work that deal directly with organic materials. Such areas include the grain and seed sector, horticulture and the livestock processing sector. An investigation carried out on the grain and seed sector in the Netherlands showed that the presence of endotoxin coupled with the substantial inhalable dust fraction could adversely impact the health of workers. (Heederick, D 2007) Inhalation appears to be the biggest means of occupational exposure to endotoxin. According to clinical literature reports, conditions such as septic shock are rarely an outcome of exposure. “Acute health effects with systemic and respiratory symptoms such as dry cough, shortness of breath, fever, and shivering which are summarized as Organic Dust Toxic Syndrome (ODTS) were observed at concentrations of 1,000 EU/m3 air, and acute changes of the lung function at concentrations of 100 EU/m3 air. An inflammatory response was also noticed. Accelerated lung function decline was observed as a chronic effect.” (Heederick, D 2007) Very few studies on the carcinogenicity of endotoxins have been undertaken to date. Endotoxins have been proven to cause respiratory illnesses. “Quantitative evidence as well as insight in inflammatory mechanisms has become stronger in the last ten years.” (Heederick, D 2007)
General characteristics of endotoxins
Endotoxins are “complex amphiphilic molecules” (Salema, V, Saxena, L, Pattnaik, P 2009) which vary in chemical configuration, the molecular weight of lipopolysaccharide subunits ranges from 10 – 20 kilodaltons. LPS molecules have a propensity to accumulate in to larger formations that have weights which exceed 300 kDa and reach up to 1000kDa. (Salema, V, Saxena, L, Pattnaik, P 2009). Endotoxins are infamously resilient. They can withstand “heat, desiccation, pH extremes and various...
References: ‘Emerging biological risks: endotoxins?’ Prof. Dick Heederik, PhD IRAS, Division of Environmental Epidemiology University Utrecht 05/06/2007 Biopharmaceutical Technology Europe Volume 21, Issue 10 Valencio Salema, Lalit Saxena, Priyabrata Pattnaik ‘Removing endotoxin from biopharmaceutical solutions’ 01/09/2009 ‘Ion Chromatography: A New Technique for Clinical Chemistry’ Courtney Anderson Vol. 22, No. 9 1976
Biochemistry Jeremy M. Berg, John L. Tymoczko, Lubert Stryer 2006 ‘Curtin’s industrial biotechnology research’ (http://www.theborneopost.com/2013/02/12/curtins-industrial-biotechnology-research/) (Accessed 27/03/13) Dr Michael K Danquah. 12/02/13 ‘Removing endotoxins using a spin-column format’ (http://www.piercenet.com/previews/2012-articles/removing-endotoxins-spin-columnformat/) (Accessed 27/03/13) Rizwan Farooqui, Ph.D.; Babu Antharavally, Ph.D.; Alice Alegria-Schaffer, M.S. 09/07/12
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