Grain dust exposure is a common cause of respiratory symptoms in grain workers, feed mill employees, and farmers. Many of these workers develop wheezing and acute and chronic bronchitis symptoms, which can be associated with obstructive changes on pulmonary function testing. It has recently been demonstrated that grain dust exposure causes neutrophilic airways inflammation and systemic symptoms related to release of interleukin-1, tumor necrosis factor, interleukin- 6, and other mediators of inflammation. Although grain dust is a heterogenous substance, endotoxin has received the greatest amount of attention as a possible cause of the airway inflammation that occurs after grain dust exposure. Although endotoxin undoubtedly causes a portion of the changes seen after grain dust exposure, it is becoming clear that other substances play a role as well.
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