This study was performed in an Estonian shale-oil mine with the purpose to develop and apply a number of biomarkers for occupational diesel-exhaust exposure monitoring. Increased breathing-zone exposures to exhaust from operators of diesel-powered trucks in the mine was confirmed in the environmental monitoring part of the study, showing a 7.5-fold higher exposure to particle-associated 1-nitropyrene (1-NP) in 50 underground workers compared with 42 surface workers [P.T.J. Scheepers, D. Coggon, L.E. Knudsen, R. Anzion, H. Autrup, S. Bogovski, R.P. Bos, D. Dahmann, P. Farmer, E.A. Martin, V. Micka, V. Muzyka, H.-G. Neumann, J. Poole, A. Schmidt-Ott, F. Seiler, J. Volf, I. Zwirner-Baier, Biomarkers for occupational diesel exhaust exposure monitoring (BIOMODEM)-a study in underground mining, Toxicol. Lett. 134 (2002) 305-317; P.T.J. Scheepers, V. Micka, V. Muzyka, R. Anzion, D. Dahmann, J. Poole, R.P. Bos, Exposure to dust and particle-associated 1-nitropyrene of drivers of diesel-powered equipment in underground mining, Ann. Occp. Hyg. 47 (2003) 379-388]. Analysis of DNA damage by the Comet assay on frozen blood samples was performed on the total study group and showed significantly higher levels (p=0.003) in underground workers (smokers) driving diesel-powered excavation machines (median 155 on a scale from 0 to 400, among 47 persons), compared with surface workers who smoked (median of 90, among 46 persons). The level of DNA damage in underground smokers was significantly higher (p=0.04) than in non-smokers. Samples from 2 of the 3 sampling weeks had significantly lower DNA damage compared with the third week, probably due to timely processing and freezing. These samples also showed significant differences (p<0.001) between underground workers (median 145, among 41 persons) and surface workers (median 60, among 30 persons). An HPLC method was developed for the analysis of (32)P-postlabelled 1-NP-DNA-adducts, and was applied to a sub-sample of 20 workers. No significant differences between surface and underground workers were found in this sub-sample with respect to the minor, unidentified adducts that had similar chromatographic properties to 1-NP adducts, and smoking did not have any effect on adduct levels. No significant effects of the genotypes of GSTM1, GSTP1 and GSTT1 on DNA-adducts and on DNA damage as measured by the Comet assay were found in the total study group. The study confirms an increased level of DNA damage in workers exposed to exhaust from truck-driving in the mine. However, the results of the environmental and biological monitoring of 1-NP did not correlate, suggesting that inhalation exposure to diesel exhaust is not reflected by an increase in 1-NP-DNA-adduct levels and/or that factors other than occupational exposure to diesel exhaust are primary determinants of these DNA-adduct levels.
Keywords: Adult; Air Pollutants, Occupational; Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid; Comet Assay; DNA Adducts; DNA Damage; DNA Primers; Environmental Monitoring; Estonia; Genotype; Glutathione Transferase; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Mining; Occupational Exposure; Petroleum; Pyrenes; Smoking; Vehicle Emissions