A cohort of 16 municipal workers engaged in cleaning oil from old transformers was examined for possible health effects from exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). In addition to the evaluation of routine clinical parameters (history, physical examination, liver function tests, serum triglycerides, serum PCB values), a new screening technique for the presence of oncogene proteins in serum using monoclonal antibodies was used to ascertain the potential carcinogenic risk from exposure in these workers. Except for one individual, serum PCB concentrations were found to be relatively low in this cohort, probably due to the observance of appropriate protective precautions. The results of liver function test were within normal limits and serum triglyceride concentrations showed no consistent relation to PCB concentrations. Six individuals, all of whom were smokers, showed abnormal banding patterns for fes oncogene related proteins. The individual with the highest serum PCB concentration also exhibited significantly raised levels of the H-ras oncogene related P21 protein in his serum. These oncogene protein findings may be indicative of an increased risk for the development of malignant disease in these individuals.
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