The Toxicity of Wiped Dust and Airborne Microbes in Individual Classrooms Increase the Risk of Teachers’ Work-Related Symptoms: A Cross-Sectional Study

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Salin, J.; Ohtonen, P.; Andersson, M.A.; Syrjälä, H. The Toxicity of Wiped Dust and Airborne Microbes in Individual Classrooms Increase the Risk of Teachers’ Work-Related Symptoms: A Cross-Sectional Study. Pathogens 2021, 10, 1360.

Title: The Toxicity of Wiped Dust and Airborne Microbes in Individual Classrooms Increase the Risk of Teachers’ Work-Related Symptoms: A Cross-Sectional Study
Author: Salin, Janne; Ohtonen, Pasi; Andersson, Maria A.; Syrjälä, Hannu
Publisher: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute
Date: 2021-10-21
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/335611
Abstract: Background: The causes and pathophysiological mechanisms of building-related symptoms (BRS) remain open. Objective: We aimed to investigate the association between teachers’ individual work-related symptoms and intrinsic in vitro toxicity in classrooms. This is a further analysis of a previously published dataset. Methods: Teachers from 15 Finnish schools in Helsinki responded to the symptom survey. The boar sperm motility inhibition assay, a sensitive indicator of mitochondrial dysfunction, was used to measure the toxicity of wiped dust and cultured microbial fallout samples collected from the teachers’ classrooms. Results: 231 teachers whose classroom toxicity data had been collected responded to the questionnaire. Logistic regression analysis adjusted for age, gender, smoking, and atopy showed that classroom dust intrinsic toxicity was statistically significantly associated with the following 12 symptoms reported by teachers (adjusted ORs in parentheses): nose stuffiness (4.1), runny nose (6.9), hoarseness (6.4), globus sensation (9.0), throat mucus (7.6), throat itching (4.4), shortness of breath (12.2), dry cough (4.7), wet eyes (12.7), hypersensitivity to sound (7.9), difficulty falling asleep (7.6), and increased need for sleep (7.7). Toxicity of cultured microbes was found to be associated with nine symptoms (adjusted ORs in parentheses): headache (2.3), nose stuffiness (2.2), nose dryness (2.2), mouth dryness (2.8), hoarseness (2.2), sore throat (2.8), throat mucus (2.3), eye discharge (10.2), and increased need for sleep (3.5). Conclusions: The toxicity of classroom dust and airborne microbes in boar sperm motility inhibition assay significantly increased teachers’ risk of work-related respiratory and ocular symptoms. Potential pathophysiological mechanisms of BRS are discussed.


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