Derivation of health-related exposure limits for bio-aerosols by analysis of animal experimental studies

Project No. FF-FP 0381


completed 12/2016


Occupational studies have shown that exposure to high concentrations of airborne biological agents can lead to health problems such as respiratory diseases, allergies and infections. However, there are currently no health-related threshold levels based on toxicological and epidemiological studies available. The aim of the project was therefore to derive dose-response relationships from animal-experimental studies for airborne biological agents, for which no data from corresponding studies with human subjects have so far been available, and for which the evaluation of literature from human studies has not yielded the expected results until now.


The integration of health and measurement parameters was carried out within the framework of a systematic review and with the involvement of a nationwide expert network. Within the framework of the research, 301 studies were identified, including 138 studies on the group of fungi and 163 studies on the group of bacteria. Separately for both groups, titles and abstracts of the publications were screened and 61 fungal studies and 50 bacterial studies were obtained for full-text screening. After reviewing the full texts, 4 publications from the group of fungi were included. No relevant studies were identified for the bacteria.


Overall, the analysis of the studies showed that the health effects were well described, present, and probably dose-dependent. Regarding the exposure analysis, studies are to be classified as problematic and should be improved. Therefore no health-related threshold levels for biological agents could be derived on the basis of the analyzed studies. Overall, further studies are necessary, which must be specially designed for the derivation of dose-response relationships of biological agents. For this, recommendations are provided on the experience gained from this work.

Last Update:

6 Dec 2017


Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e. V. (DGUV)
Research institution(s):
  • Bayerisches Landesamt für Gesundheit und Lebensmittelsicherheit

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:

biological agents


allergenic substances, biological agents

Description, key words:

health-related exposure limits, bio-aerosols, animal experimental studies