Objectives: Occupational coke oven emissions (COE) have been considered an important health issue. However, there is no conclusive data on human hepatic injury due to COE exposure. We explored the association of COE exposure with liver function and assessed the effects of modification of potential non-occupational factors.
Methods: We investigated 705 coke oven workers and 247 referents. Individual cumulative COE exposure was quantitatively estimated. Serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), γ-glutamyl transferase(GGT), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), and anti-hepatitis C antibody were measured.
Results: Among those with high COE exposure, the adjusted odd ratios of abnormal ALT and AST were 5.23 (95% CI 2.66 to10.27) and 1.95 (95% CI 1.18 to 3.52), respectively. Overweight individuals (BMI ≥25 kg/m2) with high COE exposure had elevated risks of abnormal ALT (adjusted OR 23.93; 95% CI 8.73 to 65.62) and AST (adjusted OR 5.18; 95% CI 2.32 to11.58). Risk of liver damage in HBV or HCV positive individuals with COE exposure was also elevated.
Conclusions: Long-term exposure to COE increases the risk of liver dysfunction, which is more prominent among those with higher BMI and hepatitis virus infection. The risk assessment of liver damage associated with COE exposure should take BMI and hepatitis virus infection into consideration.
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