Inhaling powder and grains such as flour and ground spices can be dangerous in large measures, and it’s something that should be taken seriously. In everyday life this is usually not a problem, as we aren’t exposed for long periods of time. However, in a work environment we could be exposed to this every day for long periods of time.
A baker is the person who is most at risk at developing occupational asthma because of inhaling flour and other spices. When baking the flour has a tendency to go everywhere. If left undetected for a long time, the baker, or other workers will be breathing in the substance, leading to breathing difficulties and sensitive lungs. This could in turn mean they are too ill to work. Another example is a scientist weighing hazardous powders in a laboratory. Sensitisation can occur if someone is exposed to it over a long time.
As with most things, the best way to combat this is to take precautions to stop it happening in the first place.
Things that can be done are:
- Routine health checks
- Powders should be kept in air tight containers when not in use
- Be careful when opening containers as the powder main go everywhere
- Transportation of the powder should also happen in a safe way
- A mouth mask should be the last resort as it can be warm and uncomfortable, but should be used if possible
- Specific to baking: don’t use hands for the spreading of flour, but for example a sprinkler
- Also: if you are mixing flour, start at a slow speed and then build up
- If you spill any flour or spices, clean up immediately
- Clean up all powders properly, not just using a brush but vacuum and wash
- Keep clothes that may allow for collection of dust and powder clean
- Stay away from hazardous powders unless completely necessary
- Minimise exposure time to the flour, dust or other airborne powders
- Make sure the room is well ventilated
- Controlled disposal of the powder so it spread
- Make sure everywhere is clean and not dusty