The overwhelming majority of biological agents are microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites) that can cause toxic effects if encountered in the working environment. At present there are about 12 million workplaces in Germany where it is to be anticipated employees will be exposed to biological agents. Therefore, risk assessments need to be conducted in order to identify and estimate the risks workers face.
It is particularly difficult to assess workplaces without an assigned protection level, where employees are exposed to complex mixtures of airborne biological agents, and where respiratory tract conditions consequently play a major role.
In order to determine workers’ exposure to biological agents, it is therefore necessary to expand, but also, above all, to establish new quantitative and qualitative methods.
The aim of this project is to develop an exposure system for the assessment of reactions to volatile intermediary products from the metabolism of biological agents. The system is to consist of two connected chambers. Volatile intermediary metabolites of biological agents are to be generated in one of the chambers, and will then be fed into the second chamber, where epithelial lung cells will be kept. The epithelial lung cells used for this purpose will be cultivated on special filters, on which they will be exposed to the ambient air or a test atmosphere and can at the same time be supplied with nutrients (known as air-liquid interface (ALI) system).
Unit 4.7 "Biological Agents"