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Exposure related mutagens in urine of rubber workers associated with inhalable particulate and dermal exposure
  1. R Vermeulen1,
  2. R P Bos2,
  3. J Pertijs2,
  4. H Kromhout1
  1. 1Environmental and Occupational Health Division, Institute of Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands
  2. 2Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, UMC St Radboud, University of Nijmegen, Nijmegen, Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr H Kromhout, Environmental and Occupational Health Division, Institute of Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht University, PO Box 80176, 3508 TD Utrecht, Netherlands; 


Aims: To determine the relation of the inhalation and dermal exposure routes and mutagenic activity in the urine of rubber workers (n = 105).

Methods: Mutagenic activity of ambient total suspended particulate matter (TSPM), surface contamination wipes, and Sunday and weekday urine samples was assessed with S typhimurium YG1041 in the presence of a metabolic activation system. Each subject was grouped into one of two exposure categories for dermal exposure (high (≥25 revertants/cm2), low (<25 revertants/cm2)) based on the mutagenic activity detected on likely skin contact surfaces and into two airborne mutagenic exposure categories (high (≥210 revertants/m3), low (<210 revertants/m3)). The potential influence of skin aberrations and acetylation status (NAT2) on urinary mutagenicity levels was also evaluated.

Results: A non-significant increase of +1605 revertants/g creatinine in urinary mutagenicity during the workweek relative to levels observed on Sunday was observed for the total population. Subsequent multivariate regression analyses, with the subjects’ weekday urinary mutagenicity levels as the dependent variable, revealed associations with environmental and mainstream tobacco smoke exposure, with the level of mutagenic contamination on surfaces with which the subjects had likely contact, with the subjects’ inhalable particulate exposure level, with observed mild skin aberrations, and when the subjects had a slow acetylation phenotype. Similar associations, although weaker were observed with Sunday urinary mutagenicity levels as well, except for the association with slow acetylation phenotype. Based on measured exposure levels it could be estimated that a high potential for exposure to surface contamination with mutagenic activity increased weekday urinary mutagenicity by about 62% when compared to low exposed workers, while high inhalable particulate exposure levels increased weekday urinary mutagenicity levels by about 21%. Subjects with mild skin aberrations had an additional, non-significant, increase in weekday urinary mutagenic activity compared to subjects without any skin aberrations.

Discussion: Results suggest that the dermal exposure route may contribute more to the level of genotoxic compounds in urine of rubber workers than the inhalation route. Although the study was limited in size, the results warrant further investigation in the importance of and ways to effectively control the dermal exposure route in the rubber industry.

  • urinary mutagenicity
  • rubber workers
  • dermal exposure
  • particulate exposure
  • skin aberration
  • NAT2-phenotype
  • CSM, cyclohexane soluble material
  • DMSO, dimethylsulphoxide
  • ETS, environmental tobacco smoke
  • TSPM, total suspended particulate matter

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