Objectives We have been conducting a cohort study since 2003 to examine the health effects caused by exposure to toner. The aim of this study is to evaluate the relationship between toner exposure and biomarkers from the results of a 7-year follow up.
Methods The subjects were 1,504 Japanese male workers aged below 50 in 2003. We divided toner-handling works into 5 categories, and then carried out personal exposure measurements on randomly selected workers in each category every year. We also surveyed the toner-handling work category through a self-administered questionnaire every year. Based on the results of the 1st personal exposure measurements, toner dust levels were classified into 3 toner-exposed groups: high (> = 0.15mg/m3), medium (= <0.02mg/m3, 0.15mg/m3<), and low (0.02mg/m3<). Individual workers were classified into 3 toner-exposed groups each year based on the measured toner dust levels and toner-handling work category answered in the questionnaire. Workers who were not engaged in toner-handling work were defined as the non-exposed group. We measured C-reactive protein (CRP) and Immunoglobulin E (IgE) in serum and 8-hydroxy-2’-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) in urine for biomarkers. Generalised Estimating Equations (GEE)was applied to examine the relationship between toner exposure and the biomarkers. The biomarkers were used as dependent variables and toner-exposed groups, smoking habits, allergic diseases, and age were used as independent variables.
Results None of the toner-exposed groups showed significant increases in any of the biomarkers in comparison with the non-exposed group. On the other hand, we found that IgE and 8-OHdG significantly increased in current smokers compared to never smokers.
Conclusions This study suggests that the health effects of occupational toner exposure may less than those of smoking, and that the possibility of toner exposure to induce inflammation and allergy is quite low.
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