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Exposure to mixtures of solvents among paint workers and biochemical alterations of liver function.
  1. J D Chen,
  2. J D Wang,
  3. J P Jang,
  4. Y Y Chen
  1. Center for the Research of Environmental and Occupational Disease, National Taiwan University, College of Medicine, Republic of China.


    The objective of this study was to determine biochemical alterations of liver function among paint manufacturers and sprayers associated with exposure to organic solvents. Two paint manufacturing factories and 22 various kinds of spray painting factories (16 car painting, two aircraft painting, three video terminal painting; and one trailer painting) were included. Air concentrations of organic solvents were collected by personal samplers and analysed by gas chromatography. A total of 180 workers were given a comprehensive physical examination, a questionnaire, a liver function test, and a test for hepatitis B surface antigen. The questionnaire contained questions regarding detailed personal medical history, intake of alcohol, and use of medicine. Mixtures of solvents were used throughout the factories, and xylene and toluene were the major components found in almost all air samples with average contents of 46% and 29% on a weight basis of 67 air samples. No strong hepatotoxic solvents were detected. Workers were classified according to the different exposure patterns and different air concentrations of breathing zones as: high (eight hour time weighted average (8 h TWA) hygienic effects of solvents 0.25-9.83, median 1.66), short term high (8 h TWA hygienic effects of solvents 0-3.38, median 0.12), and low (8 h TWA hygienic effects of solvents all below 0.38). After applying a multivariate model to control the non-occupational factors (alcohol, medication, age, and hepatitis B viral infection), increase in gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) activity was found to be associated with severity of exposure to the mixture of solvents. Because the possible effects on GGT activity of non-occupational factors were controlled for, it is concluded that increased GGT activity among exposed workers may be due to a higher exposure to the mixture of solvents.

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