Body burden monitoring of dioxins and other organic substances in workers at a hazardous waste incinerator

The construction in Constanti (Tarragona County, Catalonia) of the first, and up till now the only hazardous waste incinerator (HWI) in Spain, finished in 1999. In this study, the authors measured the concentrations of a number of organic substances detected in blood and urine of the HWI workers. Samples of 18 men and 9 women, classified according to their respective workplaces, were collected in 2011, after approximately 12 years of regular operations in the facility. The current results were compared with those of the baseline survey, as well as with the most recent surveys performed in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Plasma analyses were carried out for hexachlorobenzene (HCB), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs 28, 52, 101, 138, 153, and 180) and polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs), while the levels of 2,4- and 2,5-dichlorophenol (DCP), 2,4,5- and 2,4,6-trichlorophenol (TCP), pentachlorophenol (PCP) and 1-hydroxypyrene (1-HP) were measured in urine samples. In plasma, the mean concentrations were the following: 10.8 íg/kg lipid for HCB; 0.8 íg/kg lipid for PCB28; 0.3 íg/kg lipid for PCB52; 0.5 íg/kg lipid for PCB101; 42.2 íg/kg lipid for PCB138; 18.5 íg/kg lipid for PCB153, and 51.2 íg/kg lipid for PCB180. For PCDD/Fs, the mean concentration was 4.6 ng I-TEQ/kg lipid (4.7 ng WHO-TEQ/kg lipid). These levels, as well as those found in urine samples, are in agreement with the data of previous surveys performed in the same area. The current results in HWI workers do not show any evident sign of occupational exposure to PCDD/Fs and other organic substances. However, these results must be considered only as an indication of potential exposure, as the study presents notable limitations, such as the reduced number of participants and the lack of data relative to the air concentrations of chemicals. Consequently, general conclusions cannot be derived and the results should not be used as a basis for the implementation of industrial hygiene measures in other HWIs.

Authors: Mari, Montse; Nadal, Marti; Schuhmacher, Marta; Domingo, Jose L. ;Full Source: International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health 2013, Ahead of Print (English) ;