Biological monitoring of exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and to metallic elements in Italian Navy workers operating near the industrial area in Taranto (South Italy)

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Piero Lovreglio
Mauro Barbierato
Filippo Crociata
Enrico Tomao
Laura Diomede
Elisabetta Gallo
Pietro Scaramuzzo
Ignazio Drago
Matteo Paganelli
Pietro Apostoli
Leonardo Soleo

Keywords

1-hydroxypyrene, 2-naphthol, Metallic elements, Biological monitoring.

Abstract

Objectives: To assess, by means of biological monitoring, exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and to metallic elements in Italian Navy workers operating near the industrial area in Taranto, and thereby estimate the health risk. Methods: A total of 450 workers in the Italian Navy were examined; they had office type jobs, and 150 of them worked near the industrial area in Taranto (exposed group), 150 in Taranto but far from this area (internal control group) and 150 in Brindisi (external control group). The recruited workers were administered a questionnaire inquiring about current and previous working activities, personal medical history, lifestyle and dietary habits, and their residence location. Then they collected a urine sample for the determination of 1-hydroxypyrene, 2-naphthol, cotinine and the metallic elements As, Cd, Co, Cr, Mn, Ni, Pb, Cu, Zn and Hg. The latter were measured in 110 workers in each group. In addition, in some of the work sites of the three groups, environmental samplings were carried out to determine PAHs and the 10 metallic elements, also taking into account the wind direction. Results: Airborne benzo(a)pyrene concentrations at the different sampling sites ranged from 0.02 to 0.06 ng/m3 and naphthalene between <25 and 65.3 ng/m3, regardless of the wind direction. Among the metallic elements, As, Cd, Co, Cr, Hg, Pb, Cu and Zn were present at concentrations below or just above the limit of detection (LOD). Mn and Ni were slightly higher in the work sites of the exposed group. The urinary concentrations of 1-hydroxypyrene, 2-naphthol and the single metallic elements were not higher in the exposed workers group than in the other 2 groups. Smokers had significantly higher urinary 1-hydroxypyrene and 2-naphthol concentrations, whereas cigarette smoking did not condition a higher urinary elimination of metallic elements in the three groups with the exception of Cd and Pb. Moreover, residence location conditioned Mn, Hg and As urinary excretion, consumption of shellfish and/or crustaceans in the 72 hours before urine collection conditioned As elimination, and consumption of legumes in the 72 hours before urine collection conditioned Ni elimination. Conclusions: This research did not find a higher urinary excretion of 1-hydroxypyrene, 2-naphthol and As, Cd, Co, Cr, Mn, Ni, Pb, Cu, Zn and Hg in the exposed workers group as compared to the internal control group working far from the industrial area of Taranto, nor in the group working in another city far away from Taranto, Brindisi. Therefore, it indicated that workers in the Italian Navy operating near the industrial area in Taranto were not exposed to a greater risk attributable to exposure to PAHs and metallic elements than the two control groups.

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