Tuesday 30 March 2021

Assessment of airborne endotoxin in sandstorm dust

The impact of sandstorm dust events affects local air quality and public health. These issues are becoming of greater concern in Saudi Arabia. There is a significant lack of research on airborne endotoxin exposure and analysis in the Middle East countries and no coherent body of research exists focusing on sandstorm dust in worldwide. In this study, we used a novel design of an aluminum foil plate (AFP) electrostatic dust cloth (EDC) for the passive air sampling of sandstorm dust. A total of 38 sandstorm dust samples were collected during sandstorm episodes occurring between January and April 2020 in both indoor (7 days, n=20) and outdoor environments (24 hours, n=18). 

After exposure, and following an extraction procedure, bacterial endotoxin levels were measured using the Limulus Amoebocyte Lysate (LAL) gel clot method. The study highlights that the airborne endotoxin level observed was between 10 to 200 EU/m2 in both indoor and outdoor environments, during a sandstorm event. Agricultural activities and farmhouses observed higher airborne endotoxin levels. In general, increased endotoxin levels were related to the severity of the sandstorms. 

Given that the observed values were high as per existing guidelines for respiratory health, we recommend the setting an occupational airborne exposure limit for bacterial endotoxin. This is the first report and further studies across various sandstorm-hit regions will need to be undertaken, together with various sampling methods, in order to assess for seasonal and geographic trends. 


Vijayakumar, R., Alfaiza, F.A., Al-Malkia, E. S., Sandle, T. (2020) Assessment of airborne endotoxin in sandstorm dust and indoor environments using a novel passive sampling device in Al Zulfi city, Saudi Arabia–Establishing threshold exposure levels, Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sjbs.2020.12.0111319-562

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (http://www.pharmamicroresources.com/)

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