Cytogenetic analysis of chromosomal aberrations (CA) in 175,229 cells from 1113 individuals, both unexposed and occupationally or environmentally exposed to heavy metals (mercury and lead), organic (styrene, formaldehyde, phenol and benzo(a)pyrene) and inorganic (sulfur and nitrogen oxides, hydrogen and ammonium fluorides) volatile substances and/or ionizing radiation was performed. In addition, 11,250 cells from 225 individuals were scored for the frequency of sister-chromatid exchanges (SCE). Increased frequencies of CA were found in all occupationally exposed groups. A principal difference between the exposure to heavy metals and organic substances was found: increase in the CA frequency was dependent on duration of exposure to mercury but not dependent on duration of exposure to styrene, formaldehyde and phenol. A higher CA incidence was found in lymphocytes of children living in the vicinity of a plant manufacturing phosphate fertilizers. This indicates that children are a sensitive study group for the assessment of environmental exposure. However, the results of SCE analysis in these children were inconclusive. Exposure to ionizing radiation was found to cause chromosome breaks and chromatid exchanges in Chernobyl clean-up workers and chromatid breaks, chromatid exchanges, dicentric chromosomes and chromosome translocations in workers from the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant. The increased frequency of chromatid exchanges in individuals exposed to ionizing radiation was quite unexpected. This may be attributed to the action of some unrecognized life-style or occupational factors, or to be a result of radiation-induced genomic instability. Also an increased SCE frequency was found in lymphocytes of Chernobyl clean-up workers.
Associations of antibody titers to the JC and BK human polyoma viruses and the frequency of chromosome aberrations (CA) in human peripheral blood lymphocytes were studied. Study group consisted of 33 workers occupationally exposed to low doses of ionizing radiation and 11 control persons. There were no statistically significant differences in the JC and BK virus titer values between two groups of donors. It was found that JC and BK virus titers explained approximately 6% of total inter-individual variation in CA frequency. Such factors as alcohol abuse, age and, in this special group, exposure to ionizing radiation explained an additional 53% of the total variation in CA frequency. In six clean-up workers and one control, rogue cell (cells with multiple chromosome-type aberrations) were found. The incidence of rogue cells correlated significantly with JC and BK virus titers as well as a history of recent acute respiratory disease.
Sister chromatid exchanges (SCEs) were analysed in lymphocytes from 12 control persons and 33 Chernobyl clean-up workers. The group of Chernobyl clean-up workers consisted of civilians who were forced to go to Chernobyl to clean up environmental contamination caused by Chernobyl disaster. On average, they received 0.13 (range 0.04-0.249) Gy of external irradiation before returning to home. Cytogenetic analyses were performed 6-8 years after the irradiation. Standard cytogenetic techniques were used. Mean SCE frequency was 7.45 +/- 0.69 SCE/cell in controls and 10.30 +/- 0.31 SCE/cell in clean-up workers (p