Endotoxins are pieces of the cortical substance of Gram-negative bacteria and are released in large amount in cell lysis. Personal exposure to air-borne endotoxins may cause fever, headache, exhaustion and other flu-like symptoms (Boutin and Moline, 1987; Dutkiewicz, 1997, Heederik & Douwes, 1997; Madigan et al. 1997). These symptoms are also called ODTS, Organic Dust Toxic Syndrome. Chronic endotoxin exposure may lead to chronic bronchitis and reduce lung function (Heederik & Douwes, 1997). Volatile and often odorous compounds may also be harmful and cause headache and nausea. Powerful noise may cause tinnitus and temporary or permanent hearing defect. Noise may also raise blood pressure and cause nausea, insomnia and stress. It may interfere with communication, and increase the risk of accidents (Jauhiainen et al. 1997).
Occupational hygiene in landfill areas, windrow composting areas (Tolvanen et al. 1998) and sewage treatment plants has been investigated in Finland earlier. Bad workplace hygiene has been shown to increase the risk of falling sick and to reduce job satisfaction. With new technologies offering more effective ways to treat wastes, it is important to determine if there still are problems in occupational hygiene. Concentrations may be much higher inside waste treatment plants than in the open waste treatment areas investigated earlier. If careful attention is paid to working hygiene, the problems noted above can be prevented and the costs associated with employee absence and sick leave can be reduced.