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Eberly College of Arts and Sciences




Grain dusts contain a variety of materials which are potentially hazardous to the health of workers in the grain industry. Because the characterization of grain dusts is incomplete, we are defining the botanical, chemical, and microbial contents of several grain dusts collected from grain elevators in the Duluth-Superior regions of the U.S. Here, we report certain of the carbohydrate and protein contents of dusts in relation to dust morphology. Examination of the gross morphologies of the dusts revealed that, except for corn, each dust contained either husk or pericarp (seed coat in the case of flax) fragments in addition to respirable particles. When viewed with the light microscope, the fragments appeared as elongated, pointed structures. The possibility that certain of the fragments within corn, settled, and spring wheat were derived from cell walls was suggested by the detection of pentoses following colorimetric assay of neutralized 2 N trifluoroacetic acid hydrolyzates of these dusts. The presence of pentoses together with the occurrence of proteins within water washings of grain dusts suggests that glycoproteins may be present within the dusts. With scanning electron microscopy, each dust was found to consist of a distinct assortment of particles in addition to respirable particles. Small husk fragments and "trichome-like" objects were common to all but corn dust.

Source Citation

Dashek, W. V., Olenchock, S. A., Mayfield, J. E., Wirtz, G. H., Wolz, D. E., & Young, C. A. (1986). Carbohydrate and protein contents of grain dusts in relation to dust morphology. Environmental Health Perspectives, 66, 135–143.



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