Objective: The aim of this study was to design and execute a pilot study to collect
6 information on the personal exposure levels of podiatrists to microbial hazards in
7 podiatry clinics; and also to assess health and safety knowledge within the sector using a
8 questionnaire survey.
9 Methods: A self-report quantitative questionnaire dealing with health and safety / health
10 issues was issued to 250 podiatrist clinics. Fifteen podiatry clinics were randomly
11 recruited to participate in the exposure study. Concentrations of airborne bacteria, fungi,
12 yeasts and moulds were assessed using a six stage viable microbial cascade impactor.
13 Personal samples of total inhalable dust and endotoxin were measured in the breathing
14 zone of the podiatrist.
15 Results: A questionnaire response rate of 42% (N= 101) was achieved. 32% of
16 respondents indicated that they had a respiratory condition, asthma was the most
17 prevalent condition reported. The most frequently employed control measures reported
18 were; use of disposable gloves during patient treatments (73.3%), use of respiratory
19 protective equipment (34.6%) use of protective aprons (16.8%), and eye protection
20 (15.8%). 15.8% of respondents used mechanical room ventilation, 47.5% used nail drills
21 with local exhaust ventilation systems, and 11% used nail drills with water spray dust
22 suppression. The geometric mean concentrations of bacteria, Staphylococci, fungi and
yeasts/moulds were 590 CFU/m3
, 190 CFU/m3
, 422 CFU/m3
and 59 CFU/m3
respectively. The geometric mean endotoxin exposure was 9.6 EU/m3
24 . A significant
25 percentage of all of the bioaerosols were in the respirable fraction were representative of
26 yeasts and moulds (65 %) and Fungi (87%).
28 Conclusions: Even if statistical analysis of data is limited by low sample numbers, this
29 study showed that the frequency of cleaning and use of RPE varied between clinics
30 sampled, and it is likely that refresher health and safety training focusing on health and
31 safety hazards inherent in podiatry work and practical control measures is warranted.