Hair and urine samples were collected from 34 male tannery workers and from 12 normal adults. Eighteen of the workers dealt directly with chromium and the remaining 16 (controls) worked in the offices and kitchen of the same factory. All were found to be clinically healthy. Chromium was determined by flameless atomic absorption spectroscopy. When compared with normal adult values, urinary chromium concentration, Cr/Creatinine ratio, daily chromium excretion, and hair chromium, concentrations were significantly higher and urinary beta 2-microglobulin/Cre ratios significantly lower in both tannery workers and in controls. A significant negative correlation was found between urinary beta 2-microglobulin/Cre and Cr/Cre ratios of tannery workers and controls. A significant positive correlation was shown between hair chromium and urinary Cr/Cre values in all workers. No correlations between the duration of exposure to chromium and hair and urinary chromium values were found. Nevertheless, high values observed in workers with short exposures show that chromium is readily absorbed through the respiratory system.
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