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International Journal of Advanced in Management, Technology and Engineering Sciences ISSN NO : 2249-7455

EVALUATION OF PERSONAL DUST EXPOSURE OF THE RICE MILL


WORKERS IN ASSAM

MRINMOY BISWAS1* and PRABHANJAN K. PRANAV1


1
Department of Agricultural Engineering, NERIST, Nirjuli-791109, Arunachal Pradesh
*Corresponding author. E-mail: mrinmoyiitkgp@gmail.com

ABSTRACT
Most of the Rice mills are found in local towns and villages in India. Post-harvest process of paddy especially de-husking is occupied
considerably important term of man power requirement. Assam has more than four thousand traditional rice mills where average 10 to 12
workers are working in every day and they are working 8 to 9 hour per day. Objective: This study aims to quantify the personal dust exposure to
the rice mill workers. Methods: Dust exposure to the workers at work site was measured at their breathing zone with the help of Respicon
Particle Sampler (RPS). In total, 93 workers participated in the experiments and 105 measurements were collected. Dust concentrations were
measured different section namely feeding, sieving, feeding-cum-sieving, polishing and packaging section. Results: The result indicated that
respirable and total dust concentrations were highest in sieving section compare to other sections with geometric mean (GM) 11.1 and 85.4
mg/m3 respectively. The respirable dust concentration followed by feeding, feeding-cum-sieving, polishing and packaging section sections were
varied 9.9 to 4.2 mg/m3 and the GM of total dust exposure in the packaging section is 39% lower than sieving section. It was observed that, there
is significant variation (p<0.05) of respirable dust exposure among different sections except feeding and feeding-cum-sieving sections. Also
found total dust concentration was positively correlated with respirable (R2=0.61), thoracic (R2=0.86) and inhalable dust (R2=0.94). Relative
humidity was negative correlation with respirable and total dust for rainy seasons; however, no correlation was found for non-rainy season.
Conclusion: This result is indicated higher level of respirable and total dust exposed in rice mill workers compare to permissible exposure limit
which is adversely effect on workers lung.

Key words: Rice mill, Dust exposure, Respirable dust, Assam

INTRODUCTION
Rice is the staple food for most of the population in India. It is the largest consumed calorie source among the food grains. Assam has
been ranked first in rice production around 51 lakh metric tons with productivity of 1969 kg per hectare in 2010-11 by the Union Agriculture
Ministry. Paddy milling is the process of removing the outer husks of rice grains which is also known as dehusking that can be found in local
towns and villages across the country. Paddy grain consists of husk with brown rice. Brown rice consists of bran which outer part of the rice and
the edible portion. Brown rice also called as whole grain rice. The rice milling operation is removal or separation of husk (de-husking) and bran
to obtain the edible portion for consumption. Milling is the process where as the paddy grain is converted into a suitable consumable form for
human. The post-harvest processing of paddy (milling) is the oldest and the largest agro-processing industry in Assam. Approximately, Assam
consists of 5560 rice mills which include 1363 modern and remaining traditional mills (Central Pollution Control Board, 2008). A large number
of workers are employed in the rice milling industry in the state. Rice mill workers are potentially exposed to organic and inorganic dusts that
may have adverse effects on respiratory health (Musa et al. 2000). Rice husk is known to have high silica content (Standards and Industrial
Research Institute of Malaysia, 1983). This biogenic silica may cause pulmonary disease resembling asbestosis, namely pleural thickening,
fibrosis and possibly bronchogenic carcinoma (Newman, 1986). Dust particles contain a wide range of sizes. The effect of these dust particles
when deposited into the body depends on the size shape nature of the particles. As per based on the dust particle sizes, it was divided into three
types (i) respirable fraction which is approximately 4 microns and less (ii) thoracic fraction where dust particle fraction is approximately 10
microns diameter and less and (iii) inhalable fraction made up of 100 microns diameter and less (TSI, 1999).

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International Journal of Advanced in Management, Technology and Engineering Sciences ISSN NO : 2249-7455

Effect of dust on workers health


Several reports have suggested that unprotected dust exposures in agricultural settings may lead to pulmonary fibrosis (Glyseth et al.,
1984; Green et al., 1990; Sherwin et al., 1979). There have been many reports on health effects of grain dust exposure. Grain dust has a long
history of association with disease, and its adverse effects on various organs such as eyes, nose, skin, lung and the airways have been described
(Hurst and Dosman, 1990). Asthma has been well documented as being a result of exposure. However, few studies have been reported on the
effect of dust exposure in rice mill. Rice mill workers are potentially exposed to organic and inorganic dusts that may have adverse effects on
respiratory health (Musa et al., 2000). It is proven fact that exposure to organic dust have high prevalence of respiratory diseases, such as asthma,
chronic bronchitis, extrinsic allergic alveoli ties, organic dust toxic syndrome, and interstitial lung. These occupational diseases depend on the
dust concentration and duration of exposure apart from variation in personal immunity. The Swedish National Board of Occupational Safety and
Health has prescribed the exposure limit 5 mg/m3 for organic dust.
The major dust hazards for workers in rice mills are the dust emissions from different sections i.e. dumping of rice at a place for
subsequent collection in gunny bags, feed of paddy from gunny bags to the dumping pit, cleaning of paddy grains, removal of husk from the
paddy and polishing of rice. Rice mill dust is mainly created from free falling or handling of such materials (paddy), e.g., transferring, dumping,
filling (bagging) or emptying bags or other containers, dropping paddy from a hopper to a sieving station, weighing, conveying etc. Huge
amount of dust is created during such processes and airborne dust is propagated all over the rice mill which affected nearby villages. Evaluation
of dust concentration is very much essential to find out the airborne dust is recommended limit or not.

MATERIALS AND METHODS


Selection of rice mill
Thirteen different type traditional rice mills industrial settings located nearby NERIST in Assam, the largest province in north-east
India, were selected for the research. A walk through survey was conducted in rice milling industries located in the North-Lakhimpur, Sonitpur
and Dhemaji districts of Assam. The managers of the industries were contacted personally to explain the usefulness of the research. The selected
industries are broadly representative in terms of production capacity and age. Output capacity, number of workers employed and working hours
per day of selected industries

Selection of subjects
In the selected industries, 145 male and female workers were employed in different sections. Workers were requested to participate in
the study and written consent approved by the ethical committee of the NERIST from the workers was obtained. Very few workers declined the
request. In total, 93 workers participated in the experiments and 105 measurements were collected. Repeated samples were also collected from
12 workers. The workers who have minimum 1-year experience in selected task were considered for recruitment and age range of selected
subjects were 18-60 years. Distribution of workers and sample size in different sections in industries are given in Table 1. Dust concentration
was measured five different sections such as feeding, sieving, feeding-cum-sieving, polishing and packaging section. Range of average sampling
time was taken 4.76 - 5.88 hour.

Table 1. Dust exposure measurement in rice mill


Sl. No Activities No of workers No of sample No of workers in rice Avg. Sampling time
participated mill (hour)

1 Feeding section 17 18 25 5.73

2 Sieving section 16 19 28 5.88

3 Feeding-cum-sieving section 39 44 49 5.83

4 Polishing section 13 13 18 4.96

5 Packaging section 8 11 25 4.76

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International Journal of Advanced in Management, Technology and Engineering Sciences ISSN NO : 2249-7455

Dust measuring instrument with working principle


Dust exposure to the workers at work site was measured at their breathing zone with the help of Respicon Particle Sampler (RPS). The
Respicon is a multi-stage, virtual impactor that traps airborne particles onto three individual collection filters. The mass of deposited particles is
determined by comparing the filter weights before and after sampling. Airborne particles corresponding to the inhalable fraction are drawn into
the Respicon through a ring-gap sampling inlet via a conventional personal sampling pump. Coarse particles pass straight through to the lower
collector while other particles are aerodynamically separated onto the appropriate filter. The first virtual impactor stage separates out and collects
the particles smaller than 4m. The second stage collects particles below 10m, while the third stage collects the remaining particles.

Dust measuring procedure


Dust sampling pump was connected to particle sampler through sampling tube. Three different pore sizes of filter appropriately fixed
on filter holder. Filter holder was kept in plastic box and was weighted in digital micro balance. Filter holder having filter paper was put on main
chamber of dust sampler. Subject was called for experiment and chest harness belt was appropriately fixed to him and the sampling pump and
particle sampler was fixed at appropriate place (Fig. 1) on belt through belt clip, which is provided in both sampling pump and particle sampler.
The Respicon particle sampler was mounted in the breathing zone. Dust sampling pump was started and allowed him to perform his work from 5
to 7 hours. To determine the mass concentration of each of the size fractions, the three Respicon particle sampler filters was post-weighted on
the same digital micro-balance as was used to pre-weight the filters. For calculation the dust concentration of each size fraction were carried out
using Data Spread Sheet (TSI, USA). RPS is mounted on rice mill worker in the working condition as shown in Fig.1.

Figure 1. Mounted RPS on worker in the working condition

Climatic parameters
Airborne dust particle in the atmosphere can also influence the Earths weather and climate (Brazel and Idso 1979).
Airborne dust absorbs sunlight and heats the atmosphere. Air velocity also affects to propagate the airborne dust particle but all the rice mills
were enclosed thus it was excluded from the study. The heating effect ripples through the atmosphere and affecting air temperatures as the dust
propagates. The climatic parameters such as temperature (0C) and relative humidity (%) were measured by Portable Thermal Environment and
Heat Stress Monitor (Make: Quest Technologies). These parameters were collected during dust measurement in the rice mill. Rice milling room
temperature and relative humidity were recorded in one hour interval. Average temperature and relative humidity of measured dust concentration
were calculated for that particular day. The view of climatic parameters measurement during dust collection in the rice mill is shown in Fig. 2.

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International Journal of Advanced in Management, Technology and Engineering Sciences ISSN NO : 2249-7455

Figure 2. Climatic parameters measurement during dust collection in the rice mill

Analysis of data
Dust concentration of respirable, thoracic and inhalable fractions of individual measurement was calculated using Respicon
data software of TSI USA. For calculation of the total dust concentration were carried out using summation of respirable, thoracic and inhalable
dust through Data Spread sheet (TSI, USA). The statistical analysis and graph formation were done using IBM SPSS version 22 and Microsoft
excel. Descriptive statistical analysis was carried out for different sections of rice mill dust and it is presented as arithmetic mean (AM),
geometric mean (GM) and geometric standard deviation (GSD). The geometric standard deviation (GSD) was calculated by exponentiation of
the standard deviation (SD) of the log-transformed exposure data. The distributions of exposure data were examined upon normality by Shapiro-
Wilk test. Since the distribution of all exposure variables differed significantly (p<0.05) from the normal distribution except respirable duct
concentration (p>0.05). The data were evaluated for each activity of personal dust exposure between different sections of rice mill and p-values
for Kruskal-Wallis tests. Differences in rice dust exposure between winter and rainy/autumn of personal dust exposure (mg/m3) and p-values
from independent-sample t-test in different seasons. The correlation between total dust and different fractions of dust was calculated by scatter
plots. Effect of dust exposure on rice mill in different seasons also calculated for the independent climatic parameters such as temperature and
relative humidity by the correlation. Descriptive statistical analysis was done for measured climatic parameters by Kruskal-Wallis tests.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS

Dust exposure of rice mill


Measured dust concentration at various sections of rice mill was statistically analyzed and compared among sections. The climatic
factor effect on dust concentration is also discussed under this section.

Personal dust exposure of rice mill in different sections


The measured dust concentration in the breathing zone of rice mill work as respirable, thoracic, inhalable and total are given Table 2. It
was observed that, respirable dust concentration is highest in sieving section compare to other sections with geometric mean (GM) 11.1 mg/m3
and geometric standard deviation (GSD) 1.13. Geometric mean of total dust concentration in sieving section was observed 85.4 mg/m3 (GSD
=1.13). Second higher dust creating section was observed as feeding sections. The feeding-cum-sieving section is the section where feeding and
sieving operation are at one place which is not distinct. The data collected in such section is referred as feeding-cum-sieving section. The dust
concentration at feeding-cum-sieving section was as par with the sieving section. The GM of total and respirable dust exposure in the packaging
section is 38.76 and 62.5% lower than sieving section, respectively. It was observed that main dust creating sections are feeding and sieving
only. The dust which is found at packaging and policing section are because of its propagation from the feeding and sieving section.
Characteristics of seeds and raw materials vary in rice milling industries.

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Traditional threshing method performed by the local farmers with minimal use of machines does not remove impurities very well. The
raw paddy received by the mills commonly contains fine dust (airborne dust particles) and long fibers shaped particles carried from paddy fields.
This fine dust includes partly the soil contents in which the paddy was grown and other fine particles. Fine dust is generated during paddy bag
opening (feeding section), cleaning the impurities or small unwanted particles by sieve (sieving section).

The respirable dust concentration was found more than the recommended limit of 5 mg/m3 (OSHA, 1990) in all sections except
packaging. Few studies (Ghosh et al. 1997; Dewangan and patil 2015; Desai and Ghosh, 2003) have been carried out to measure personal dust
exposures in rice mill in India. Desai and Ghosh, (2003) reported that highest dust level was observed in the rice mill workplace up to 80.7
mg/m3. Ghosh et al. (1997) reported that the concentrations of total airborne aflatoxin in the respirable dusts were 26 pg/m3 and 19 pg/m3,
respectively, for the workplace and the storage area of the rice mill. It was considered that, respirable dust samples size was <7 m and the total
dust samples size was >7 m whereas the present study corresponding values were <4 m and >4 m.

Several studies (Dewangan and patil 2015; Fulenkar 1999; Halstensen et al. 2013) have reported relatively huge variations in the dust
emissions in different industries. Simpson et al. (1999) reported that the highest dust exposures occurred during cleaning activities such as grain
handling (72.5 mg/m3). The respirable dust concentration at feeding-cum-sieving section is 9-11 mg/m3 which is much higher than the
recommended value (5 mg/m3) (SNBOSH 1991). Dewangan and Patil (2015) also reported the total and respirable dust 81.05 and 8.22 mg/m3
for the rice mills.

Table 2. Various dust concentration at different sections of tice mill


Operations Respirable (mg/m3) Thoracic (mg/m3) Inhalable (mg/m3) Total (mg/m3)
(N) AM GM(GSD) AM GM(GSD) AM GM(GSD) AM GM(GSD)
Total (105) 8.9 8.2(1.52) 23 22.2(1.31) 44.9 73.5(1.29) 76.7 74.3(1.29)
Feeding (18) 9.1 8.9(1.27) 24.5 23.9(1.27) 47.4 46.4(1.25) 81 79.4(1.24)
Sieving (19) 11.2 11.1(1.13) 24.8 24.6(1.13) 49.9 49.5(1.15) 85.9 85.4(1.13)
Feeding-cum-sieving 9.9 9.5(1.38) 24.6 24(1.30) 47.4 45.8(1.32) 81.6 79.5(1.3)
(44)
Polishing (13) 5.6 5.5(1.28) 18.5 18.8(1.35) 35.2 34.8(1.17) 53.8 52.8(1.21)
Packaging(11) 4.2 4(1.37) 16.4 16(1.29) 32.5 32(1.2) 53.2 52.3(1.2)

Statistical analysis of dust exposure between different sections

The statistical comparison of geometrical mean of the measured personal dust exposure at different sections of rice mill was carried
out and presented in Table 3. It was observed that, there is significant variation of respirable dust exposure among different sections except
feeding and feeding-cum-sieving sections. No significant variation of thoracic, inhalable and total dust exposure were found in feeding with
sieving sections, sieving with feeding-cum-sieving, feeding with feeding-cum-sieving and polishing with packaging.

Desai and Ghosh, (2003) compared workplace in rice mill with store and control site. It was reported that both total and respirable
dusts concentrations were significantly greater (p<0.01) at the work place sites in comparison to control site. High concentration of airborne total
dust was also found in the store in comparison to control (p<0.05). Very few studies are available to compare the present study. Comparison is
meant to show how far Indian industries lagging to protect the workers. In one of the British studies cited in risk assessment document for flour
dust prepared by the health and safety executive, it was found that 20% of mill workers were exposed to the levels of inhalable flour dust
exceeding 10 mg/m3 (Karpinski, 2003).

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Table 3. Statistical comparison of personal dust exposure between sections


Operations Respirable (mg/m3) Thoracic (mg/m3) Inhalable (mg/m3) Total (mg/m3)
DGM p-value DGM p-value DGM p-value DGM p-value

Feeding and sieving 2.30 <0.001 0.71 0.90 3.09 0.49 6.0 0.51

Sieving and feeding-cum- 1.70 <0.05 0.58 0.72 3.66 0.32 5.98 0.29
sieving

Feeding and Feeding-cum- 0.61 0.53 0.12 0.72 0.56 0.82 5.98 0.79
sieving

Feeding and polishing 3.35 <0.001 6.08 <0.001 11.61 <0.001 26.72 <0.001

Sieving and packaging 7.18 <0.001 8.65 <0.001 17.46 <0.001 33.05 <0.001

Sieving and polishing 5.65 <0.001 6.79 <0.001 14.7 <0.001 26.73 <0.001

Feeding and polishing 3.35 <0.001 6.08 <0.001 11.61 <0.001 20.72 <0.001

Polishing and feeding- 3.95 <0.001 6.21 <0.05 11.04 <0.001 20.74 <0.001
cum-sieving

Packaging and feeding- 5.49 <0.001 8.07 <0.001 13.81 <0.001 27.08 <0.001
cum-sieving

Polishing and packaging 1.53 <0.05 1.86 0.325 2.77 0.173 6.33 0.105

Correlation between different dust fractions


The correlations of total dust concentration with the respirable, thoracic and inhalable dust are shown in Fig. 3 through the scatter
plots. It was observed that the total dust concentration was positively correlated with respirable (r=0.78), thoracic (r=0.93) and inhalable dust
(r=0.97). This clearly indicated that if total dust concentration was more than all the fractions of dust such as respirable, thoracic and inhalable
dust was also more.

The relation of respirable dust with inhalable and thoracic is also presented by Fig. 4. It was observed that less correlation was found
with thoracic (R2<0.50) and inhalable dust (R2<0.50). Scatter plot between thoracic and inhalable is also shown in Fig. 5. It is evident that there
is a positive correlation between thoracic and inhalable fraction of dust (r = 0.84).

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Figure 3. Relation of total dust with other fractions of dust

Figure 4. Relation of respirable dust with thoracic and inhalable fractions of dust

Figure 5. Relation of thoracic with inhalable fractions of dust

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Climatic parameters during dust collection


Personal dust exposure to the worker in the rice mills was categorised in two seasons namely rainy and non-rainy. The rainy season in
study area is from March to September and October to February is non-rainy season. The arithmetic and geometric mean temperature and
relative humidity of these seasons are given in Table 4. The arithmetic mean (AM) temperature of rainy season was 8.60C higher than non-rainy
season. Similarly relative humidity was also higher (77.2%) than the non-rainy season (69.1%). Descriptive statistical analysis for measured
climatic parameters by Kruskal-Wallis tests showed significant variation (p<0.001) between the rainy and non-rainy season for temperature as
well as relative humidity.

Table 4. Temperature and relative humidity for rainy and non-rainy season
Seasons Temperature, 0C p-value Relative humidity, % p-value
AM GM (GSD) AM GM (GSD)
Rainy 26.8 26.7(1.08) <0.001 77.5 77.2(1.10) <0.001
Non-rainy 18.2 18.1(1.12) 69.1 68.9(1.07)

Comparison of dust exposure in different seasons


Various fractions of personal dust exposure in rice mills in rainy and non-rainy for two consecutive years (January 2014-December
2015) is given in Table 5. The table presents the arithmetic and geometric mean of 44 sample for rainy and 61 for no-rainy season in terms of
respirable, thoracic, inhalable and total dust fractions. It was observed that personal dust exposure was more in non-rainy season compare to
rainy seasons. The GM of dust exposure in non-rainy seasons were 60, 26.28, 24.54 and 28.66% more respirable, thoracic, inhalable and total
dust fraction, respectively, compared to rainy season. Descriptive statistical analysis for season effect on dust fractions by the Independent-
sample t-test indicated the significant variation (p<0.001) of respirable, thoracic, inhalable and total dust fractions between rainy and non-rainy
seasons.

Agricultural products are hygroscopic in nature and thus absorb moisture from the air. Warm and humid climate of the region provides
favourable environment for growth and proliferation of microorganism. Older seeds are rusted by insects, pests, and fungus owing to poor
storage and thus emit higher dust. Furthermore, abrasion of seeds during handling produces fine dust. Tabak et al. (2002) also observed the
effect of humidity in the cotton dust concentration in the cottonseed oil mills and reported that low humidity of the cottonseeds may lead to
higher dust concentrations.

Table 5. Means of dust exposure in rainy and non-rainy season with p-values
Respirable (mg/m3) Thoracic (mg/m3) Inhalable (mg/m3) Total (mg/m3)
p-value

p-value

p-value

p-value
Season (N) GM GM GM GM
AM AM AM AM
(GSD) (GSD) (GSD) (GSD)

6.25 19.4 38.3 64.2


Rainy (44) 6.7 20.2 39.4 66.2
(1.48) (1.36) (1.3) (1.3)
<0.001

<0.001

<0.001

<0.001

Non-rainy 10 24.5 47.7 82.6


10.4 25 48.8 84.3
(61) (1.36) (1.23) (1.25) (1.23)

Correlations between of respirable and total dust fraction with relative humidity in rainy and non-rainy seasons are shown in Figs. 6 and 7,
respectively. It is evident that relative humidity has negative correlation with respirable dust for rainy seasons; however, no correlation was
found for non-rainy season. Further, relative humidity with total dust exposure was found negative correlation in rainy seasons but no correlation
was found in non-rainy season.

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Figure 6. Correlation of respirable dust fraction with relative humidity in seasons

Figure 7. Correlation of total dust fraction with relative humidity in seasons

CONCLUSIONS
Maximum dust concentration was observed at sieving section followed by feeding, polishing and packaging section. The respirable
dust concentration was observed more than the recommended limit of 5 mg/m3 at all section except packaging. Significant variation was found
of respirable dust exposure among different sections of rice mill except between feeding and feeding-cum-sieving sections. Also positive
correlation was observed for respirable, thoracic and inhalable dust with total dust. Relative humidity was negative correlation with respirable
and total dust for rainy seasons; however, no correlation was found for non-rainy season.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
Authors acknowledge the ICAR, New Delhi for providing financial support to carry out this study. Further, authors are very much thankful to
Dr. L. P. Gite (former) and Dr. K. N. Agrawal, Project Coordinator All India Coordinate Research Project on Ergonomics and Safety in
Agriculture for his valuable suggestions during the study.

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