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Exposure to bioaerosols at open dumpsites: A case study of bioaerosols exposure from activities at Olusosun open dumpsite, Lagos Nigeria

Akpeimeh, G.F., Fletcher, L.A., Evans, B.E.
Waste management 2019 v.89 pp. 37-47
Aspergillus fumigatus, Gram-negative bacteria, air, asthma, bioaerosols, case studies, cough, cross-sectional studies, environmental impact, fungi, health surveys, human health, municipal solid waste, particle size distribution, public health, respiratory system, risk, risk reduction, waste management, Nigeria
Activities associated with the open dumping of municipal solid waste has the potential for greater impact on the environment and public health compared to other forms of waste-to-land treatment of such wastes. However, there is a lack of quantitative data on the exposure to bioaerosols from open dumpsites, hence impeding the development of effective interventions that would reduce the risk of respiratory symptoms among scavengers and waste workers at such dumpsites. This study investigated exposure to bioaerosols at Olusosun open dumpsite, Lagos Nigeria using three methodologies; (1) Conducting a cross-sectional survey on the respiratory health of the population on the dumpsite, (2) Measuring bioaerosol concentrations in the ambient air by measuring four bioaerosols indicator groups (total bacteria, gram-negative bacteria, Aspergillus fumigatus and total fungi) using a Anderson six stage impactor sampler, (3) Measuring activity related exposures to bioaerosols using an SKC button personal sampler.After a cross sectional health survey of 149 participants (waste workers, scavengers, middlemen, food vendors and business owners), smokers reported higher symptoms of chronic cough (21%) and chronic phlegm (15%) compared to non-smokers (chronic cough 15%, chronic phlegm 13%). Years of work > 5 years showed no statistically significant association with chronic phlegm (OR 1.2, 95% CI 0.4–3.4; p > 0.05) or asthma (OR 1.8, 95% CI 0.6–5.2; p > 0.05). At the 95th percentile, the concentration of total bacteria was the highest (2189 CFU/m3), then gram negative bacteria (2188 CFU/m3), total fungi (843 CFU/m3) and Aspergillus fumigatus (441 CFU/m3) after ambient air sampling. A comparison of the data showed that the activity-based sampling (undertaken using body worn personal sampler) had higher bioaerosols concentrations (104 –106 CFU/m3), i.e. 2–3 logs higher than those recorded from static ambient air sampling. Bioaerosol exposure was highest during scavenging activities compared to waste sorting and site supervision. Particle size distributions showed that 41%, 46%, 76% and 63% of total bacteria, gram-negative bacteria, Aspergillus fumigatus and total fungi respectively were of respirable sizes and would therefore be capable of penetrating deep into the respiratory system, posing a greater human health risk. This study has shown that exposure to bioaerosols can be associated with activities undertaken at open dumpsites and may contribute to the high prevalence of the chronic respiratory symptoms among the workers in such environments.