Bone lead levels for 367 active and 14 retired lead smelter workers were measured in vivo by X-ray fluorescence in May-June 1994. The bone sites of study were the tibia and calcaneus; magnitudes of concentration were used to gauge lead body burden. Whole blood lead readings from the workers generated a cumulative blood lead index (CBLI) that approximated the level of lead exposure over time. Blood lead values for 204 of the 381 workers were gathered from workers returning from a 10-month work interruption that ended in 1991; their blood level values were compared to their tibia and calcaneus lead levels. The resulting relations allowed constraints to be placed on the endogenous release of lead from bone in smelter works. Calcaneus lead levels were found to correlate strongly with those for tibia lead, and in a manner consistent with observations from other lead industry workers. Relations between bone lead concentration and CBLI demonstrated a distinctly nonlinear appearance. When the active population was divided by date of hire, a significant difference in the bone lead-CBLI slope emerged. After a correction to include the component of CBLI existing before the workers' employment at the smelter was made, this difference persisted. This implies that the transfer of lead from blood to bone in the workers has changed over time, possibly as a consequence of varying exposure conditions.
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The diet specificity was studied in 335 male workers engaged in blast-furnace and open hearth plants, rail-structural, oxygen converter and sheet-rolling mills of the steel plant. The energy value of the diets under study amounted to 3746-4091 kcal a day, with the mean value being equal to 3947 kcal. The content of proteins including those of animal origin and the content of mineral substances corresponded with health recommendations. The content of carbohydrates and vitamins was slightly less as compared to that according to the recommended physiological requirements. The diet was abundant in fats, particularly in those of animal origin. Overweight was recorded in 18.9% and obesity in 5.8% of the workers.
Adaptive capacities were studied in 6-7-year-ol apparently healthy children in relation to the number of congenital morphogenetic variants (CMVs). The most markedly reduced adaptive capacities were revealed in children with 5 CMVs or more.
To evaluate the importance of exposure to ambient air pollution for lung cancer risk, we conducted a case-control study in the vicinity of a nonferrous metal smelter. The smelter started operations in 1930 and had very high emissions during the early decades, particularly of arsenic and SO(2). Among subjects deceased 1961-1990 in the municipality where the smelter is located and who had not worked at the smelter, 209 male and 107 female lung cancer cases were identified and matched by sex and year of birth to 518 and 209 controls, respectively. Information on smoking habits, occupations and residences was collected by questionnaire to next-of-kin and from registry data. Living close to the smelter was associated with a relative risk (RR) for lung cancer of 1.38 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.89-2.14] among men, adjusted for smoking and occupational exposures. No clear difference in risk was detected for men deceased 1961-1979 compared to men deceased 1980-1990 (RR point estimates 1.42 and 1.29, respectively). There appeared to be an increased risk especially for men exposed in the beginning of the operations (RR = 1.51, 95% CI 0.90-2.54), in particular combined with exposure duration shorter than 20 years (RR = 2.52, 95% CI 0.89-7.11). For women, however, no overall increased risk for lung cancer was observed. Although not significant, our findings thus indicated an increased risk of lung cancer among men living close to the nonferrous smelter. This increase appeared to concern primarily men exposed during the early years of operations, when emissions were very high.
We investigated the relationship between residence in the neighbourhood of an aluminium smelter and the prevalence of atopy in schoolchildren (7-13 years of age). Atopy was assessed in 556 of the 620 participants by a skin prick test with eight common aeroallergens. The median exposures to sulphur dioxide and fluoride during the pollen season in the age interval 19-36 months were 24 and 3.1 micrograms/m3 in the spring and 20 and 3.3 micrograms/m3 in the summer, respectively. The odds ratio (OR) of having atopy was 2.0 (95% CI: 1.2-3.3) in those children who had lived in the index area for 7 years or more compared with those who had lived there less than 7 years (cumulative effect). The OR of atopy was 2.5 (1.4-4.4) in those who had lived in the index area during the age interval of 19-36 months compared with rural residence during this age-interval (age-specific effect). When the age-specific effect and the cumulative effect were compared in the same logistic model, the former decreased to 1.1 (0.4-3.0), whereas the latter was 2.2 (0.7-6.6). The results indicate that exposure to these low levels of irritants during early childhood increases allergen sensitization in children.
Blood and urine aluminium concentrations were studied in industrially exposed workers using electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometry. Welders and workers making aluminium powder and aluminium sulphate had higher concentrations in blood and urine than non-exposed referents. Workers in the electrolytic production of aluminium had higher urine but not blood concentrations than the referents. Thus aluminium was found to be absorbed by all industrially exposed workers. Blood concentrations were lower than those presumably associated with aluminium induced encephalopathy in patients receiving dialysis.
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From 2000-2004 a monitoring study was conducted to evaluate the impacts of aluminum smelter-derived polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) on the health of fish in the marine waters of Kitimat, British Columbia, Canada. These waters are part of the historical fishing grounds of the Haisla First Nation, and since the 1950s the Alcan Primary Metal Company has operated an aluminum smelter at the head of the Kitimat Arm embayment. As a result, adjacent marine and estuarine sediments have been severely contaminated with a mixture of smelter-associated PAHs in the range of 10,000-100,000 ng/g dry wt. These concentrations are above those shown to cause adverse effects in fish exposed to PAHs in urban estuaries, but it was uncertain whether comparable effects would be seen at the Kitimat site due to limited bioavailability of smelter-derived PAHs. Over the 5-year study we conducted biennial collections of adult English sole (Parophrys vetulus) and sediment samples at the corresponding capture sites. Various tissue samples (e.g. liver, kidney, gonad, stomach contents) and bile were taken from each animal to determine levels of exposure and biological effects, and compare the uptake and toxicity of smelter-derived PAHs with urban mixtures of PAHs. Results showed significant intersite differences in concentrations of PAHs. Sole collected at sites nearest the smelter showed increased PAH exposure, as well as significantly higher prevalences of PAH-associated liver disease, compared to sites within Kitimat Arm that were more distant from the smelter. However, measures of PAH exposure (e.g., bile metabolites) were surprisingly high in sole from the reference sites outside of Kitimat Arm, though sediment and dietary PAHs at these sites were low, and fish from the areas showed no biological injury. PAH uptake, exposure, and biological effects in Kitimat English sole were relatively lower when compared to English sole collected from urban sites contaminated with PAH mixtures from other sources. These findings indicate that while smelter-associated PAHs in Kitimat Arm appear to be causing some injury to marine resources, they likely have reduced bioavailability, and thus reduced biological toxicity, compared to other environmental PAH mixtures.