Soybean and its processed forms have become an increasingly important part of agriculture, where they are widely used as an animal feedstuff and in an extensive range of human food products. This entails transportation from producer countries, largely the USA and South America, to importer destinations such as the EU and China. Soya is recognised as a dietary allergen, containing a number of identified allergenic proteins. Inhaled soya dust generated by occupational activities also causes respiratory health problems. Reports of “asthma epidemics” in harbour cities identified ill health in the community but were related to occupational activities of unloading/loading bulk soya without appropriate dust control measures. Inhaled allergens in already-sensitised individuals can cause a range of allergic symptoms in the eyes, nose, and respiratory tract, including occupational asthma (OA). Soybean dust can also cause health problems related to lung irritancy. Endotoxin and fungal contamination associated with soya are also potential respiratory hazards. This chapter reviews published data on ill health and symptoms from airborne exposure to allergens in dust from soybean and derivative products and the levels of exposure to dust and major allergens from a range of occupational activities. Other potential health hazards associated with soybean, such as endotoxin and fungal contamination, are also highlighted.
Part of the book: Soybean for Human Consumption and Animal Feed