A retrospective analysis of urinary 1-hydroxypyrene in casing welders and tappers in a chrome smelter

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BACKGROUND : Coal tar-derived substances consist of numerous polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), several of which are known carcinogens. Different processes used during steel making influence PAH release into the work environment. Furthermore, employees’ jobs and personal hygiene practices may influence personal PAH exposure. OBJECTIVE : This study sought to investigate urinary 1-hydroxypyrene corrected for creatinine (1-OHP-Cr) levels in casing welders and tappers exposed to coal tar pitch volatiles (CTPVs) in a chrome smelter, and to determine personal hygiene practices. METHODS : In this cross-sectional study, urinary 1-OHP-Cr bio-monitoring data collected from 2000 to 2010 was obtained from a chrome smelter. A structured questionnaire was used to assess the smoking habits, personal hygiene practices, use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and workplace conditions of casing welders and tappers. RESULTS : Bio-monitoring information was provided for fi ve casing welders and 26 tappers. Urinary 1-OHP-Cr was significantly higher in casing welders than in tappers (6.2±3.1 and 2.2±2.3 μmol/mol creat, respectively; p=0.00). The 1-OHP-Cr levels in workers in the ferrochrome and technochrome plants were similar (3.9±2.9 and 2.5±2.7 μmol/mol creat, respectively). Cigarette smoking did not infl uence urinary 1-OHP-Cr levels (p=0.80). Most employees reported adherence to good hygiene practices. CONCLISION : In the smelter, urinary 1-OHP-Cr levels were influenced by job category rather than the section of the plant in which the employees worked. Personal hygiene practices may contribute to differences in urinary 1-OHP-Cr levels amongst workers.