AIHA journal : a journal for the science of occupational and environmental health and safety

Bactericidal treatment of raw cotton as the method of byssinosis prevention.

PMID 12570400


In early studies, research to control byssinosis focused on methods to reduce the trash in the textile mill environment. Dust control has been effective in reducing the prevalence of byssinosis, but simple reduction in dust levels does not always assure its prevention. Also, bacteria and fungi present in cotton do not in themselves cause byssinosis, but the endotoxins-heat-stable lipopolysaccharide-protein complexes contained in the cell wall of Gram-negative bacteria-are responsible for the development of this respiratory disease of workers on cotton, flax, and some other fibers. Experimental work was carried out in cotton fields in different cotton growing countries. Opened cotton capsules were treated by spraying them with bactericidal water solutions of benzododecinium bromide to avoid the growth of bacteria by bacteriostatic effect during transportation and storage and thus to prevent the formation of endotoxins. To simulate transport conditions, treated and nontreated cotton samples were incubated under high air humidity. The endotoxin contents were determined by Limulus amebocyte lysate assay depending on the duration of incubation. In nontreated samples the endotoxin content grew to over 5,000 ng/mg. In comparison, in treated samples the endotoxin content grew extremely slowly. Thus, the bactericidal treating of raw cotton showed high efficiency as a potential method of byssinosis prevention. The irradiation by gamma-rays is also efficient, but it is not realistic in cotton growing areas of developing countries at the present time.