Comparative in vitro toxicity of grape- and citrus-farm dusts

Val Vallyathan, Donna Pack, Steve Leonard, Robert Lawson, Marc B Schenker, Vince Castranova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Agricultural workers are exposed to a variety of airborne dusts, including crystalline silica and other inorganic minerals. This study was designed to characterize the organic and inorganic components of agricultural dusts in California grape- and citrus-farm fields and to compare their cytotoxicity using in vitro toxicity bioassays as predictors of pathogenicity. Aerosolized dusts collected from farm fields were characterized by scanning-electron-microscopic energy-dispersive x-ray analysis, x-ray diffraction, trace metal analysis by plasma emission spectroscopy, and surface area measurements. As indicators of cytotoxicity, cell viability, release of alveolar enzymes activities (lactate dehydrogenase, N-acetyl glucosaminidase), production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), such as H2O2 and hydroxyl radical (OH), and lipid peroxidation were monitored after exposure of cells to grape- and citrus-farm dusts or inorganic components of these dusts. In addition, activation of nuclear factor κ B and activator protein-1 were evaluated at the peak time for response of 36 h postexposure. All toxicity studies were done in comparison with crystalline silica of similar particle size and diameter using the same mass concentrations as farm dusts. The results showed that inorganic minerals in the aerosolized farm dust fractions were mostly composed of aluminum silicates, crystalline silica, and free iron. Crystalline silica used in these studies was more cytotoxic than grape- and citrus-farm dusts. However, in general, citrus farm dust exhibited the greatest ability to generate ROS and induce lipid peroxidation. These results support human epidemiologic studies, reporting an increased incidence of pulmonary fibrosis in farm workers, by documenting the potential of farm dusts to induce oxidative stress and initiate disease development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-106
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Toxicology and Environmental Health - Part A: Current Issues
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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