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Residual Oil Fly Ash (rofa) Dna Ateration

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Environmental Health Perspectives Volume 112, Number 6, May 2004

Research Article


Urinary 8-Hydroxy-2´-Deoxyguanosine as a Biomarker of Oxidative DNA Damage in Workers Exposed to Fine Particulates

Jee Young Kim,1 Sutapa Mukherjee,1 Long Ngo,2 and David C. Christiani1,3

1Department of Environmental Health, Occupational Health Program, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; 2Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; 3Pulmonary and Critical Care Unit, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA


Materials and Methods




Residual oil fly ash (ROFA) is a chemically complex mixture of compounds, including metals that are potentially carcinogenic because of their ability to cause oxidative injury. In this study, we investigated the association between exposure to particulate matter with an aerodynamic mass median diameter 2.5 µm (PM2.5) and oxidative DNA damage and repair, as indicated by urinary 8-hydroxy-2´-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) concentrations, in a group of boilermakers exposed to ROFA and metal fumes. Twenty workers (50% smokers) were monitored for 5 days during an overhaul of oil-fired boilers. The median occupational PM2.5 8-hr time-weighted average was 0.44 mg/m3 (25th-75th percentile, 0.29-0.76). The mean ± SE creatinine-adjusted 8-OHdG levels were 13.26 ± 1.04 µg/g in urine samples collected pre-workshift and 15.22 ± 0.99 µg/g in the post-workshift samples. The urinary 8-OHdG levels were significantly greater in the post-workshift samples than in the pre-workshift samples (p = 0.02), after adjusting for urinary cotinine levels, chronic bronchitis status, and age. Linear mixed models indicated a significant exposure-response association between PM2.5 exposure and urinary 8-OHdG levels (p = 0.03). Each 1-mg/m3 incremental increase in PM2.5 exposure was associated with an increase of 1.67 µg/g (95% confidence interval, 0.21-3.14) in 8-OHdG levels. PM2.5 vanadium, manganese, nickel, and lead exposures also were positively associated with 8-OHdG levels (p 0.05). This study suggests that a relatively young and healthy cohort of boilermakers may experience an increased risk of developing oxidative DNA injury after exposure to high levels of metal-containing particulate matter. Key words: biomarkers, epidemiology, occupational, oxidative DNA damage, particulate matter. Environ Health Perspect 112:666-671 (2004). doi:10.1289/ehp.6827 available via http://dx.doi.org/ [Online 20 January 2004]

Address correspondence to D.C. Christiani, Harvard School of Public Health, Occupational Health Program, Building I, Room 1402, 665 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115 USA. Telephone: (617) 432-3323. Fax: (617) 432-3441. E-mail: dchris@hohp.harvard.edu

We thank S. Magari, C. Amarasiriwardena, E. Rodrigues, and N. Lupoli for their assistance. Special thanks to the staff and members of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Shipbuilders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers of Local No. 29.

This study was supported by National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants ES09860, ES00002, and CA94715. J.Y.K. was supported by Harvard-National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health Education and Research Center training grant T42110421 and NIH postdoctoral fellowship T32 ES07069.

The authors declare they have no competing financial interests.

Received 29 October 2003; accepted 20 January 2004.

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  • In Memoriam

When you are on the Fantail (back part of ship), of an aircraft carrier, then the carrier has to turn into the wind to launch the aircraft. The captain cranks up the speed of the ship. The plane captains assigned to each aircraft must stay with their aircraft until it is launched.

The smelly stuff coming out of the stacks is like little balls of resin. It smells a little similar to sulfur. There is no alternative, but to breath this sticky burnt fuel-oil. Everyday, for 12 hour shifts a day you must breath this mixture of fuel-oil and JP-5, if you work on the flight deck. These exposures, in combination with the noise level, can cause so many different diseases.

My audiologist C&P said that I had no exposure to acoustical noise during service. He noted that I was a plane captain. All I can think is that the Dr. doesn't know what a plane captain is. This doctor should be given a free cruise, and work on the flight deck and flight line, for 3 years like I did.

Better yet, even one day on the flight deck or any ship, would give him understanding of problems for which he has no facts to substantiate a denial. Boilermakers had this and asbestos, to live in daily, below decks.

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