Objective: Occupational asthma caused by flour is common in bakers. We applied novel intranasal air samplers (INAS) to assess wheat allergen exposure and evaluate respiratory protection in bakeries.
Methods: Two models of INAS (INAS-M1 and INAS-M2) were compared with simultaneous personal air sampling of inhalable dust, both with and without facemasks. Wheat allergen levels were measured using a sensitive sandwich enzyme immunoassay. Allergenic particles were immunostained for microscopic visualization.
Results: Personal air sampling correlated well with INAS-M1 (r = 0.89) and INAS-M2 (r = 0.75). INAS-M2 collected particles more effectively than INAS-M1. Facemasks reduced inhalation of wheat allergen by 96% and 93% measured using INAS-M1 and INAS-M2, respectively.
Conclusions: Nasal air sampling can complement personal air sampling to measure short-term exposure and evaluate respiratory protection. To prevent baker's asthma, facemasks may be an effective solution in addition to improving workplaces.