Background Electric steel foundry workers are potentially exposed to several toxic chemicals including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and metals. This study was aimed to assess PAHs and metals exposure in foundry workers and its association with the oxidative DNA damage evaluated as urinary 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2’deoxyguanosine (8-oxodG).
Methods Ninety-four male workers from an electric steel foundry entered the study. Sixteen unmetabolized PAHs (U-PAHs), 8 hydroxylated PAH metabolites (OHPAHs), 12 metals and 8-oxodG were investigated in urine samples.
Results Among U-PAHs, urinary naphthalene was the most abundant compound, followed by phenanthrene; benzo[a]pyrene level was <0.30 ng/L. Median 1-hydroxypyrene (1-OHPYR) was 0.52 µg/L. Job title was a significant determinant for almost all U-PAHs and metals: employees in the steel smelter workshop had higher levels of high-boiling U-PAHs, maintenance workers and workers from the galvanization and rolling workshop were the most exposed to metals. Median 8-oxodG level was 3.20 µg/L. No correlation between 8-oxodG and 1-OHPYR or any OHPAH was found. Significant correlations between 8-oxodG and some U-PAHs and metals were found, particularly acenaphthylene, phenanthrene, anthracene, fluoranthene, pyrene, chromium, manganese, cobalt, zinc, arsenic, barium, thallium, and lead.
Conclusions The oxidative DNA damage was moderate and in the range reported in other occupational fields and in the general population. These results indicate that the investigated biomarkers were only minor contributors to urinary 8-oxodG.