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Occupational coke oven emissions exposure and risk of abnormal liver function: modifications of body mass index and hepatitis virus infection
  1. Y Hu1,2,
  2. B Chen1,
  3. J Qian3,
  4. L Jin3,
  5. T Jin1,
  6. D Lu3
  1. 1Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, Fudan University, Shanghai, PR China
  2. 2Department of Pathology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA
  3. 3State Key Laboratory of Genetic Engineering and MOE Key Laboratory of Contemporary Anthropology, Institute of Genetics, School of Life Sciences, Fudan University, Shanghai, China
  1. Correspondence to Yunping Hu, Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, School of Public Health, Fudan University, Shanghai 200032, China; yphu{at}


Objectives Occupational coke oven emissions (COEs) have been considered an important health issue. However, there are no conclusive data on human hepatic injury due to COE exposure. The association of COE exposure with liver function was explored and the effects of modification of potential non-occupational factors were assessed.

Methods 705 coke oven workers and 247 referents were investigated. Individual cumulative COE exposure was quantitatively estimated. Serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), γ-glutamyl transferase, alkaline phosphatase, hepatitis B surface antigen and anti-hepatitis C antibody were measured.

Results Among those with high COE exposure, the adjusted ORs of abnormal ALT and AST were 5.23 (95% CI 2.66 to 10.27) and 1.95 (95% CI 1.18 to 3.52), respectively. Overweight individuals (body mass index (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 to 11.58). Risk of liver damage in hepatitis B virus- or hepatitis C virus-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.

  • Coke oven emissions
  • occupational exposure
  • liver function
  • body mass index
  • hepatic virus infection

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  • Funding This work was supported by the China National Key Basic Research Program Grants (2002CB512902).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the ethics committees of the School of Public Health, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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