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The Health of Compost Workers - Call for volunteers

REA composting members are invited to take part in research with the aim of better understanding the impact that exposure to bioaerosols has on workers and the best way to measure this. Dr Subhashis Basu is leading this study.

What is the aim of the study?
It is thought that because of inhaling bacteria and fungi in the air, compost workers may be at a greater risk of developing breathing problems. We would like to find out whether this is the case. 

What is involved?
To complete the project we need composting companies to support this research by allowing us to ask their workers to complete a questionnaire and for workers to agree to give voluntary samples for analysis. This should take no more than 20 minutes of their time.

They will visit your workplace during your normal working hours. The whole process will last no more than 30 minutes for each worker.

Workers will be asked to:
1) Complete a short simple questionnaire about your health and things that may affect your chest such as smoking and previous medical problems.

2) Conduct a skin prick test which tests the reaction of the skin to some fungi contained within the compost. 
                                                                      
3) Test the skin reaction to house dust mite, grass pollen, tree, water and histamine at the same time to see if you are allergic to any of these agents. 

4) Take a small sample of blood from each worker of 10mls (2 teaspoons worth). The blood test is to detect allergy in the blood that will allow the study team to see who may be at risk of developing breathing problems.

5) Blow into a small tube attached to a machine so that we can measure breathing and lung function. 

For more detailed information please see these frequently asked questions.

How to get involved?
If your company is interested in taking part please contact either Dr Subhashis Basu at Subhashis.basu@sth.nhs.uk or Dr Jon Poole at jon.poole@hsl.gsi.gov.uk.

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