Exposures and Health Effects of Bioaerosols in Seafood Processing Workers - a Position Statement
AuthorBonlokke, Jakob; Bang, Berit; Aasmoe, Lisbeth; Rahman, Anas M. Abdel; Syron, Laura N.; Andersson, Eva; Dahlman-Høglund, Anna; Lopata, Andreas L.; Jeebhay, Mohamed Fareed
Occupational hazards exist in the processing of seafood both in land-based facilities as well as on board vessels. Recent findings on occupational injury and respiratory health risks among seafood processing workers were presented and discussed at the IFISH5 conference. Particular emphasis was put on the challenges that im/migrant workers encounter, the greater risks onboard factory vessels, especially where processing machinery are retrofitted to older vessels not primarily designed for this purpose, and the difficulties in assessing and preventing bioaerosol exposures and associated respiratory health risks despite recent advances in characterising agents responsible for allergic and non-allergic reactions. Based on appraisal of existing knowledge in the published literature and new findings presented at the conference, recommendations for immediate actions as well as for future research have been proposed. Among these include the importance of improving extraction ventilation systems, optimising machinery performance, enclosure of bioaerosol sources, improved work organization, and making special efforts to identify and support the needs of im/migrant workers to ensure they also benefit from such improvements. There is a need for studies that incorporate longitudinal study designs, have improved exposure and diagnostic methods, and that address seafood processing in countries with high seafood processing activities such as Asia and those that involve im/migrant workers worldwide. The medical and scientific community has an important role to play in prevention but cannot do this in isolation and should cooperate closely with hygienists, engineers, and national and international agencies to obtain better health outcomes for workers in the seafood industry.