Workers in wastewater treatment plants are exposed to a wide range of chemicals as well as biological contaminants. A study has shown that prevalence of respiratory symptoms among exposed persons is significantly higher than that of unexposed people*

The objective of the study was to ascertain whether exposure to bio-aerosols under the normal working conditions in wastewater treatment plants is associated with any significant changes in the prevalence of respiratory symptoms and lung function capacities.

For the study,  198 employees of wastewater treatment plants and 99 unexposed persons were studied. American thoracic society (ATS) standard respiratory symptom questionnaire was used to determine the prevalence of respiratory symptoms. Pulmonary function tests were conducted for each participant.

The results showed the prevalence of respiratory symptoms among exposed persons was significantly higher than that of unexposed people. Mean values of most pulmonary function test parameters were significantly lower in the exposed compared to the comparison group persons. An increased prevalence of respiratory symptoms and decrements in pulmonary function test parameters may be attributed to exposure to bio-aerosols released from wastewater treatment plants.

*Jahangiri M, Neghab M, Nasiri G, et al. Respiratory disorders associated with occupational inhalational exposure to bioaerosols among wastewater treatment workers of petrochemical complexes. Int J Occup Environ Med. 2015;6(1):41-49. doi:10.15171/ijoem.2015.458

To access the paper, visit https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25588225/