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Potential pathogenic bacteria in metalworking fluids and aerosols from a machining facility

by Sarah D. Perkins, Largus T. Angenent
FEMS Microbiology Ecology ()

Abstract

The metalworking and machining industry utilizes recirculating metalworking fluids for integral aspects of the fabrication process. Despite the use of biocides, these fluids sustain substantial biological growth. Subsequently, the high-shear forces incurred during metalworking processing aerosolize bacterial cells and may cause dermatologic and respiratory effects in exposed workers. We quantified and identified the bacterial load for metalworking fluid and aerosol samples of a machining facility in the US Midwest during two seasons. To investigate the presence of potentially pathogenic bacteria in fluid and air, we performed 16S rRNA gene surveys. The concentration of total bacterial cells (including culturable and nonculturable cells) was relatively constant throughout the study, averaging 5.1 × 10⁸ cells mL⁻¹ in the fluids and 4.8 × 10⁵ cells m⁻³ in the aerosols. We observed bacteria of potential epidemiologic significance from several different bacterial phyla in both fluids and aerosols. Most notably, Alcaligenes faecalis was identified through both direct sequencing and culturing in every sample collected. Elucidating the bacterial community with gene surveys showed that metalworking fluids were the source of the aerosolized bacteria in this facility.

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