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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Monitoring of aromatic amine exposures in workers at a chemical plant with a known bladder cancer excess.

BACKGROUND: In April 1991, an excess of bladder cancer cases among workers employed at a chemical manufacturing facility in Niagara Falls, NY, was reported. This excess was primarily confined to 708 workers who had ever been employed in the rubber chemicals manufacturing area of the plant, where the aromatic amines aniline and o-toluidine have historically been used. PURPOSE: An environmental and biological monitoring survey was conducted to evaluate current exposures to aniline and o-toluidine in the rubber chemicals department. METHODS: Personal air sampling for aniline and o-toluidine was conducted with the use of a modified Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 73 method. Urine samples were collected before and after work (i.e., pre-shift and post-shift, respectively) and stored at -70 degrees C. Base hydrolysis was used to convert acetanilide and N-acetyl-o-toluidine, metabolites of aniline and o-toluidine present in the urine, to the parent compounds. The parent compounds were extracted from the alkaline urine into butyl chloride and then back-extracted from the butyl chloride into aqueous hydrochloric acid. An aliquot of each acidic extract was subjected to ion-interaction reversed-phase liquid chromatography with coulometric electrochemical detection. Hemoglobin (Hb) was extracted from blood and stored at -70 degrees C. For the measurement of adducts of aniline, o-toluidine, and 4-aminobiphenyl (4-ABP), precipitated Hb was dissolved in 0.1 M sodium hydroxide in the presence of recovery standards, and the hydrolysate was extracted with hexane, derivatized with pentafluoropropionic anhydride, and analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry with negative chemical ionization. RESULTS: A total of 73 workers, including 46 of 64 exposed workers who were employed in the rubber chemicals department and had the potential for exposure to aniline and o-toluidine and 27 of 52 unexposed workers employed in other departments where aniline and o-toluidine were not used or produced, had data available for both aniline and o-toluidine and Hb adducts; 28 of the workers in the former group also had personal air-sampling data. Personal air sample measurements showed that airborne concentrations of aniline and o-toluidine were well within the limits allowed in the workplace by OSHA. Urinary aniline and o-toluidine levels, however, were substantially higher among exposed workers than among unexposed control subjects. The most striking differential was for post-shift urinary o-toluidine levels, which averaged (+/- standard deviation) 2.8 micrograms/L (+/- 1.4 micrograms/L) in unexposed subjects and 98.7 micrograms/L (+/- 119.4 micrograms/L) in exposed subjects (P = .0001). Average aniline-Hb and o-toluidine-Hb adduct levels were also significantly higher (P = .0001) among exposed workers than among unexposed control subjects. Average levels of adducts to 4-ABP, a potential contaminant of process chemicals, were not significantly different (P = .48), although three exposed workers had 4-ABP levels above the range in unexposed workers. CONCLUSIONS: The adduct data suggest that, among current workers, o-toluidine exposure substantially exceeds aniline exposure and that 4-ABP exposure, if it occurs at all, is not widespread. These data support the conclusion that occupational exposure to o-toluidine is the most likely causal agent of the bladder cancer excess observed among workers in the rubber chemicals department of the plant under study, although exposures to aniline and 4-ABP cannot be ruled out.[1]


  1. Monitoring of aromatic amine exposures in workers at a chemical plant with a known bladder cancer excess. Ward, E.M., Sabbioni, G., DeBord, D.G., Teass, A.W., Brown, K.K., Talaska, G.G., Roberts, D.R., Ruder, A.M., Streicher, R.P. J. Natl. Cancer Inst. (1996) [Pubmed]
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