(1/5557) Methodological issues in biomonitoring of low level exposure to benzene.

Data from a pilot study on unmetabolized benzene and trans,trans muconic acid (t,t-MA) excretion in filling station attendants and unexposed controls were used to afford methodological issues in the biomonitoring of low benzene exposures (around 0.1 ppm). Urinary concentrations of benzene and t,t-MA were measured by dynamic head-space capillary GC/FID and HPLC, respectively. The accuracy of the HPLC determination of t,t-MA was assessed in terms of inter- and intra-method reliability. The adequacy of urinary t,t-MA and benzene as biological markers of low benzene exposure was evaluated by analysing the relationship between personal exposure to benzene and biomarker excretion. Filling station attendants excreted significantly higher amounts of benzene, but not of t,t-MA, than controls. Adjusting for occupational benzene exposure, smokers excreted significantly higher amounts of t,t-MA, but not of unmetabolized benzene, than nonsmokers. A comparative analysis of the present and previously published biomonitoring surveys showed a good inter-study agreement regarding the amount of t,t-MA and unmetabolized benzene excreted (about 0.1-0.2 mg/l and 1-2 micrograms/l, respectively) per unit of exposure (0.1 ppm). For each biomarker, based on the distribution of parameters observed in the pilot study, we calculated the minimum sample size required to estimate the population mean with given confidence and precision.  (+info)

(2/5557) Personal exposure to dust, endotoxin and crystalline silica in California agriculture.

AIMS: The aim of this study was to measure personal exposure to dust, endotoxin and crystalline silica during various agricultural operations in California over a period of one year. METHODS: Ten farms were randomly selected in Yolo and Solano counties and workers were invited to wear personal sampling equipment to measure inhalable and respirable dust levels during various operations. The samples were analysed for endotoxin using the Limulus Amebocyte Lysate assay and crystalline silica content using X-ray diffraction. In total 142 inhalable samples and 144 respirable samples were collected. RESULTS: The measurements showed considerable difference in exposure levels between various operations, in particular for the inhalable fraction of the dust and the endotoxin. Machine harvesting of tree crops (Geometric mean (GM) = 45.1 mg/m3) and vegetables (GM = 7.9 mg/m3), and cleaning of poultry houses (GM = 6.7 mg/m3) showed the highest inhalable dust levels. Cleaning of poultry houses also showed the highest inhalable endotoxin levels (GM = 1861 EU/m3). Respirable dust levels were generally low, except for machine harvesting of tree crops (GM = 2.8 mg/m3) and vegetables (GM = 0.9 mg/m3). Respirable endotoxin levels were also low. For the inhalable dust fraction, levels were reduced considerably when an enclosed cabin was present. The percentage of crystalline silica was overall higher in the respirable dust samples than the inhalable dust samples. CONCLUSIONS: Considerable differences exist in personal exposure levels to dust, endotoxin and crystalline silica during various agricultural operations in California agriculture with some operations showing very high levels.  (+info)

(3/5557) Hierarchical cluster analysis applied to workers' exposures in fiberglass insulation manufacturing.

The objectives of this study were to explore the application of cluster analysis to the characterization of multiple exposures in industrial hygiene practice and to compare exposure groupings based on the result from cluster analysis with that based on non-measurement-based approaches commonly used in epidemiology. Cluster analysis was performed for 37 workers simultaneously exposed to three agents (endotoxin, phenolic compounds and formaldehyde) in fiberglass insulation manufacturing. Different clustering algorithms, including complete-linkage (or farthest-neighbor), single-linkage (or nearest-neighbor), group-average and model-based clustering approaches, were used to construct the tree structures from which clusters can be formed. Differences were observed between the exposure clusters constructed by these different clustering algorithms. When contrasting the exposure classification based on tree structures with that based on non-measurement-based information, the results indicate that the exposure clusters identified from the tree structures had little in common with the classification results from either the traditional exposure zone or the work group classification approach. In terms of the defining homogeneous exposure groups or from the standpoint of health risk, some toxicological normalization in the components of the exposure vector appears to be required in order to form meaningful exposure groupings from cluster analysis. Finally, it remains important to see if the lack of correspondence between exposure groups based on epidemiological classification and measurement data is a peculiarity of the data or a more general problem in multivariate exposure analysis.  (+info)

(4/5557) Indoor, outdoor, and regional summer and winter concentrations of PM10, PM2.5, SO4(2)-, H+, NH4+, NO3-, NH3, and nitrous acid in homes with and without kerosene space heaters.

Twenty-four-hour samples of PM10 (mass of particles with aerodynamic diameter < or = 10 microm), PM2.5, (mass of particles with aerodynamic diameter < or = 2.5 microm), particle strong acidity (H+), sulfate (SO42-), nitrate (NO3-), ammonia (NH3), nitrous acid (HONO), and sulfur dioxide were collected inside and outside of 281 homes during winter and summer periods. Measurements were also conducted during summer periods at a regional site. A total of 58 homes of nonsmokers were sampled during the summer periods and 223 homes were sampled during the winter periods. Seventy-four of the homes sampled during the winter reported the use of a kerosene heater. All homes sampled in the summer were located in southwest Virginia. All but 20 homes sampled in the winter were also located in southwest Virginia; the remainder of the homes were located in Connecticut. For homes without tobacco combustion, the regional air monitoring site (Vinton, VA) appeared to provide a reasonable estimate of concentrations of PM2.5 and SO42- during summer months outside and inside homes within the region, even when a substantial number of the homes used air conditioning. Average indoor/outdoor ratios for PM2.5 and SO42- during the summer period were 1.03 +/- 0.71 and 0.74 +/- 0.53, respectively. The indoor/outdoor mean ratio for sulfate suggests that on average approximately 75% of the fine aerosol indoors during the summer is associated with outdoor sources. Kerosene heater use during the winter months, in the absence of tobacco combustion, results in substantial increases in indoor concentrations of PM2.5, SO42-, and possibly H+, as compared to homes without kerosene heaters. During their use, we estimated that kerosene heaters added, on average, approximately 40 microg/m3 of PM2.5 and 15 microg/m3 of SO42- to background residential levels of 18 and 2 microg/m3, respectively. Results from using sulfuric acid-doped Teflon (E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co., Wilmington, DE) filters in homes with kerosene heaters suggest that acid particle concentrations may be substantially higher than those measured because of acid neutralization by ammonia. During the summer and winter periods indoor concentrations of ammonia are an order of magnitude higher indoors than outdoors and appear to result in lower indoor acid particle concentrations. Nitrous acid levels are higher indoors than outdoors during both winter and summer and are substantially higher in homes with unvented combustion sources.  (+info)

(5/5557) Biomarkers for exposure to ambient air pollution--comparison of carcinogen-DNA adduct levels with other exposure markers and markers for oxidative stress.

Human exposure to genotoxic compounds present in ambient air has been studied using selected biomarkers in nonsmoking Danish bus drivers and postal workers. A large interindividual variation in biomarker levels was observed. Significantly higher levels of bulky carcinogen-DNA adducts (75.42 adducts/10(8) nucleotides) and of 2-amino-apidic semialdehyde (AAS) in plasma proteins (56.7 pmol/mg protein) were observed in bus drivers working in the central part of Copenhagen, Denmark. In contrast, significantly higher levels of AAS in hemoglobin (55.8 pmol/mg protein), malondialdehyde in plasma (0. 96 nmol/ml plasma), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH)-albumin adduct (3.38 fmol/ microg albumin) were observed in the suburban group. The biomarker levels in postal workers were similar to the levels in suburban bus drivers. In the combined group of bus drivers and postal workers, negative correlations were observed between bulky carcinogen-DNA adduct and PAH-albumin levels (p = 0.005), and between DNA adduct and [gamma]-glutamyl semialdehyde (GGS) in hemoglobin (p = 0.11). Highly significant correlations were found between PAH-albumin adducts and AAS in plasma (p = 0.001) and GGS in hemoglobin (p = 0.001). Significant correlations were also observed between urinary 8-oxo-7, 8-dihydro-2'-deoxyguanosine and AAS in plasma (p = 0.001) and PAH-albumin adducts (p = 0.002). The influence of the glutatione S-transferase (GST) M1 deletion on the correlation between the biomarkers was studied in the combined group. A significant negative correlation was only observed between bulky carcinogen-DNA adducts and PAH-albumin adducts (p = 0.02) and between DNA adduct and urinary mutagenic activity (p = 0.02) in the GSTM1 null group, but not in the workers who were homozygotes or heterozygotes for GSTM1. Our results indicate that some of the selected biomarkers can be used to distinguish between high and low exposure to environmental genotoxins.  (+info)

(6/5557) Causes of nitrous oxide contamination in operating rooms.

BACKGROUND: To reduce the ambient concentration of waste anesthetic agents, exhaust gas scavenging systems are standard in almost all operating rooms. The incidence of contamination and the factors that may increase the concentrations of ambient anesthetic gases have not been evaluated fully during routine circumstances, however. METHODS: Concentrations of nitrous oxide (N2O) in ambient air were monitored automatically in 10 operating rooms in Kagoshima University Hospital from January to March 1997. Ambient air was sampled automatically from each operating room, and the concentrations of N2O were analyzed every 22 min by an infrared spectrophotometer. The output of the N2O analyzer was integrated electronically regarding time, and data were displayed on a monitor in the administrative office for anesthesia supervisors. A concentration of N2O > 50 parts per million was regarded as abnormally high and was displayed with an alarm signal. The cause of the high concentration of N2O was then sought. RESULTS: During the 3-month investigation, N2O was used in 402 cases. Abnormally high concentrations of N2O were detected at some time during 104 (25.9%) of those cases. The causes were mask ventilation (42 cases, 40.4% of detected cases), unconnected scavenging systems (20 cases, 19.2%), leak around uncuffed pediatric endotracheal tube (13 cases, 12.5%), equipment leakage (12 cases, 11.5%), and others (17 cases, 16.4%). CONCLUSIONS: N2O contamination was common during routine circumstances in our operating rooms. An unconnected scavenging system led to the highest concentrations of N2O recorded. Proper use of scavenging systems is necessary if contamination by anesthetic gas is to be limited.  (+info)

(7/5557) Animals as sentinels of human health hazards of environmental chemicals.

A workshop titled "Using Sentinel Species Data to Address the Potential Human Health Effects of Chemicals in the Environment," sponsored by the U.S. Army Center for Environmental Health Research, the National Center for Environmental Assessment of the EPA, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, was held to consider the use of sentinel and surrogate animal species data for evaluating the potential human health effects of chemicals in the environment. The workshop took a broad view of the sentinel species concept, and included mammalian and nonmammalian species, companion animals, food animals, fish, amphibians, and other wildlife. Sentinel species data included observations of wild animals in field situations as well as experimental animal data. Workshop participants identified potential applications for sentinel species data derived from monitoring programs or serendipitous observations and explored the potential use of such information in human health hazard and risk assessments and for evaluating causes or mechanisms of effect. Although it is unlikely that sentinel species data will be used as the sole determinative factor in evaluating human health concerns, such data can be useful as for additional weight of evidence in a risk assessment, for providing early warning of situations requiring further study, or for monitoring the course of remedial activities. Attention was given to the factors impeding the application of sentinel species approaches and their acceptance in the scientific and regulatory communities. Workshop participants identified a number of critical research needs and opportunities for interagency collaboration that could help advance the use of sentinel species approaches.  (+info)

(8/5557) A risk assessment for exposure to grunerite asbestos (amosite) in an iron ore mine.

The potential for health risks to humans exposed to the asbestos minerals continues to be a public health concern. Although the production and use of the commercial amphibole asbestos minerals-grunerite (amosite) and riebeckite (crocidolite)-have been almost completely eliminated from world commerce, special opportunities for potentially significant exposures remain. Commercially viable deposits of grunerite asbestos are very rare, but it can occur as a gangue mineral in a limited part of a mine otherwise thought asbestos-free. This report describes such a situation, in which a very localized seam of grunerite asbestos was identified in an iron ore mine. The geological occurrence of the seam in the ore body is described, as well as the mineralogical character of the grunerite asbestos. The most relevant epidemiological studies of workers exposed to grunerite asbestos are used to gauge the hazards associated with the inhalation of this fibrous mineral. Both analytical transmission electron microscopy and phase-contrast optical microscopy were used to quantify the fibers present in the air during mining in the area with outcroppings of grunerite asbestos. Analytical transmission electron microscopy and continuous-scan x-ray diffraction were used to determine the type of asbestos fiber present. Knowing the level of the miner's exposures, we carried out a risk assessment by using a model developed for the Environmental Protection Agency.  (+info)