Methodological issues in biomonitoring of low level exposure to benzene. (1/1747)

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)

Mechanisms and mediators in coal dust induced toxicity: a review. (2/1747)

Chronic inhalation of coal dust can cause several lung disorders, including simple coal workers pneumoconiosis (CWP), progressive massive fibrosis (PMF), chronic bronchitis, lung function loss, and emphysema. This review focuses on the cellular actions and interactions of key inflammatory cells and target cells in coal dust toxicity and related lung disorders, i.e. macrophages and neutrophils, epithelial cells, and fibroblasts. Factors released from or affecting these cells are outlined in separate sections, i.e. (1) reactive oxygen species (ROS) and related antioxidant protection mechanisms, and (2) cytokines, growth factors and related proteins. Furthermore, (3) components of the extracellular matrix (ECM), including the modifying role of ROS, cytokines, proteases and antiproteases are discussed in relation to tissue damage and remodelling in the respiratory tract. It is recognised that inhaled coal dust particles are important non-cellular and cellular sources of ROS in the lung, and may be significantly involved in the damage of lung target cells as well as important macromolecules including alpha-1-antitrypsin and DNA. In vitro and in vivo studies with coal dusts showed the up-regulation of important leukocyte recruiting factors, e.g. Leukotriene-B4 (LTB4), Platelet Derived Growth Factor (PDGF), Monocyte Chemotactic Protein-1 (MCP-1), and Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha (TNF alpha), as well as the neutrophil adhesion factor Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 (ICAM-1). Coal dust particles are also known to stimulate the (macrophage) production of various factors with potential capacity to modulate lung cells and/or extracellular matrix, including O2-., H2O2, and NO, fibroblast chemoattractants (e.g. Transforming Growth Factor-beta (TGF beta), PDGF, and fibronectin) and a number of factors that have been shown to stimulate and/or inhibit fibroblast growth or collagen production such as (TNF alpha, TGF beta, PDGF, Insulin Like Growth Factor, and Prostaglandin-E2). Further studies are needed to clarify the in vivo kinetics and relative impact of these factors.  (+info)

Personal exposure to dust, endotoxin and crystalline silica in California agriculture. (3/1747)

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)

Hierarchical cluster analysis applied to workers' exposures in fiberglass insulation manufacturing. (4/1747)

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)

Modeling breathing-zone concentrations of airborne contaminants generated during compressed air spray painting. (5/1747)

This paper presents a mathematical model to predict breathing-zone concentrations of airborne contaminants generated during compressed air spray painting in cross-flow ventilated booths. The model focuses on characterizing the generation and transport of overspray mist. It extends previous work on conventional spray guns to include exposures generated by HVLP guns. Dimensional analysis and scale model wind-tunnel studies are employed using non-volatile oils, instead of paint, to produce empirical equations for estimating exposure to total mass. Results indicate that a dimensionless breathing zone concentration is a nonlinear function of the ratio of momentum flux of air from the spray gun to the momentum flux of air passing through the projected area of the worker's body. The orientation of the spraying operation within the booth is also very significant. The exposure model requires an estimate of the contaminant generation rate, which is approximated by a simple impactor model. The results represent an initial step in the construction of more realistic models capable of predicting exposure as a mathematical function of the governing parameters.  (+info)

Causes of nitrous oxide contamination in operating rooms. (6/1747)

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)

Exposure of medical personnel to methylmethacrylate vapor during percutaneous vertebroplasty. (7/1747)

The occupational exposure to methylmethacrylate (MMA) vapor during percutaneous vertebroplasty was determined. During five vertebroplasty procedures, air-sampling pumps were attached to medical personnel. MMA vapor levels in the samples were then quantified using gas chromatography. The samples collected yielded MMA vapor levels of less than five parts per million (ppm). The MMA vapor concentrations measured were well below the recommended maximum exposure of 100 ppm over the course of an 8-hour workday.  (+info)

Potential effects of gas hydrate on human welfare. (8/1747)

For almost 30 years. serious interest has been directed toward natural gas hydrate, a crystalline solid composed of water and methane, as a potential (i) energy resource, (ii) factor in global climate change, and (iii) submarine geohazard. Although each of these issues can affect human welfare, only (iii) is considered to be of immediate importance. Assessments of gas hydrate as an energy resource have often been overly optimistic, based in part on its very high methane content and on its worldwide occurrence in continental margins. Although these attributes are attractive, geologic settings, reservoir properties, and phase-equilibria considerations diminish the energy resource potential of natural gas hydrate. The possible role of gas hydrate in global climate change has been often overstated. Although methane is a "greenhouse" gas in the atmosphere, much methane from dissociated gas hydrate may never reach the atmosphere, but rather may be converted to carbon dioxide and sequestered by the hydrosphere/biosphere before reaching the atmosphere. Thus, methane from gas hydrate may have little opportunity to affect global climate change. However, submarine geohazards (such as sediment instabilities and slope failures on local and regional scales, leading to debris flows, slumps, slides, and possible tsunamis) caused by gas-hydrate dissociation are of immediate and increasing importance as humankind moves to exploit seabed resources in ever-deepening waters of coastal oceans. The vulnerability of gas hydrate to temperature and sea level changes enhances the instability of deep-water oceanic sediments, and thus human activities and installations in this setting can be affected.  (+info)