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Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxin and dibenzofuran concentrations in the serum samples of workers at continuously burning municipal waste incinerators in Japan
  1. Shinji Kumagaia,
  2. Shigeki Kodab,
  3. Takashi Miyakitac,
  4. Hideki Yamaguchid,
  5. Kenichi Katagie,
  6. Nobufumi Yasudab
  1. aDepartment of Occupational Health, Osaka Prefectural Institute of Public Health, Japan, bDepartment of Public Health, Kochi Medical School, Japan, cDepartment of Hygiene, Kumamoto University School of Medicine, Japan, dKumamoto Occupational Safety and Health Center, Japan, eKobe Hospital, Hyogo Medical Cooperation, Japan
  1. Dr S Kumagai, Department of Occupational Health, Osaka Prefectural Institute of Public Health, 1–3–69 Nakamichi, Higashinari-ku, Osaka 537, Japan


OBJECTIVES To find whether concentrations of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) in serum increased in workers at municipal incinerators that burn continuously.

METHODS 30 Workers employed at three municipal waste incineration plants (incinerator workers) and 30 control workers were studied. The incinerator workers had worn dust masks or airline masks during the periodic repair work inside the incinerators. Previous job, dietary habit, smoking habit, distance from residence to the incineration plant, and body weight and height were obtained from a questionnaire survey. Concentrations of PCDDs/PCDFs were measured in the serum of the workers and the dust deposited in the plants. The influence of various factors on serum concentrations of PCDDs/PCDFs was examined by multiple regression analysis.

RESULTS Dust analysis showed the greatest amount of octachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (OCDD), followed by 1,2,3,4,6,7,8-heptachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (HpCDD), 1,2,3,4,6,7,8-heptachlorodibenzofuran (HpCDF), and octachlorodibenzofuran (OCDF). The toxicity equivalents (TEQs) of PCDDs and PCDFs in the deposited dust were 4.8, 1.0, and 6.4 ng TEQs/g, respectively, for plants A, B, and C. The mean serum TEQs of PCDDs and PCDFs in the incinerator workers and control workers were 19.2 and 22.9 pg TEQs/g lipid, respectively, for area A, 28.8 and 24.5 pg TEQs/g lipid for area B, and 23.4 and 23.6 pg TEQs/g lipid for area C. No significant differences were found between the incinerator workers and the controls for TEQs of PCDDs and PCDFs separately, and TEQs of PCDDs and PCDFs together. However, the serum 1,2,3,4,6,7,8-HpCDF concentration was significantly higher in the incinerator workers than in the controls for all the three areas. When the exposure index to 1,2,3,4,6,7,8-HpCDF is defined as the product of the concentration of 1,2,3,4,6,7,8-HpCDF in the deposited dust and duration of employment, the concentration of 1,2,3,4,6,7,8-HpCDF in serum increased as the exposure index increased. Multivariate analysis suggested that the serum concentration of HpCDF increased with duration of employment at the incineration plants and OCDF increased with employment of ⩾21 years. The other significant variables (p<0.01 or p<0.001) were area for hexachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (HxCDD) and tetrachlorodibenzofuran (TCDF), Brinkman index for HpCDD, and body mass index (BMI) for tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), HpCDD, and TEQs of PCDDs.

CONCLUSION The serum TEQs of PCDDs and PCDFs was not significantly higher among the incinerator workers, but the serum concentration of 1,2,3,4,6,7,8-HpCDF was. This suggests that the incinerator workers had inhaled dust containing PCDDs and PCDFs while working in plants equipped with incinerators that burn continuously.

  • serum dioxins
  • municipal waste incinerators
  • continuous burning
  • heptachlorodibenzofuran

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