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Open Access Research article

Exposure of bakery and pastry apprentices to airborne flour dust using PM2.5 and PM10 personal samplers

Estelle Mounier-Geyssant12, Jean-François Barthélemy3, Lory Mouchot1, Christophe Paris12 and Denis Zmirou-Navier12*

Author Affiliations

1 INSERM (National Institute of Health and Medical Research) Research unit ERI n°11, 9 avenue de la Forêt de Haye, BP 184, 54505 Vandoeuvre-lès-Nancy, Cedex, France

2 School of Medicine, Nancy University Medical School, 9 avenue de la Forêt de Haye, BP 184, 54505 Vandoeuvre-lès-Nancy, Cedex, France

3 LICE-INRS, Department of exposure assessment, avenue de Bourgogne, 54500 Vandoeuvre-lès-Nancy, France

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BMC Public Health 2007, 7:311  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-7-311

Published: 1 November 2007



This study describes exposure levels of bakery and pastry apprentices to flour dust, a known risk factor of occupational asthma.


Questionnaires on work activity were completed by 286 students. Among them, 34 performed a series of two personal exposure measurements using a PM2.5 and PM10 personal sampler during a complete work shift, one during a cold ("winter") period, and the other during a hot ("summer") period.


Bakery apprentices experience greater average PM2.5 and PM10 exposures than pastry apprentices (p < 0.006). Exposure values for both particulate fractions are greater in winter (average PM10 values among bakers = 1.10 mg.m-3 [standard deviation: 0.83]) than in summer (0.63 mg.m-3 [0.36]). While complying with current European occupational limit values, these exposures exceed the ACGIH recommendations set to prevent sensitization to flour dust (0.5 mg.m-3). Over half the facilities had no ventilation system.


Young bakery apprentices incur substantial exposure to known airways allergens, a situation that might elicit early induction of airways inflammation.