Determination of genetic damage and urinary metabolites in fuel filling station attendants

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Fuel (diesel and petrol) constitutes a complex mixture of volatile flammable liquid hydrocarbons among them benzene (BZ), toluene (TOL), and xylene (XYL) are considered to be the most hazardous, predominantly BZ because of its carcinogenic potency. Exposure to these compounds may have an impact on the health of the exposed subjects. Hence, genotoxicity and quantitative analysis of these compounds was performed in blood and urine samples of 200 workers exposed to fuel in filling stations and compared to controls. The level of genetic damage was determined by micronucleus test (MNT) in buccal epithelial cells (BEC) and chromosomal aberrations (CA) assay in peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) of fuel filling station attendants (FFSA) and compared to a matched control group. Urine analysis for BZ and its metabolites, phenol (Ph), trans, trans-Muconic Acid (t, t-MA), and S-Phenyl Mercapturic Acid (S-PMA) was done in all the study subjects. The results of our study revealed that exposure to BTX in petrol vapors induced a statistically significant increase in the frequency of micronuclei (MN) and CA in the exposed subjects than in controls (P < 0.05). There was a significant rise in the levels of urinary BZ, Ph, t, t-MA, and S-PMA in the exposed subjects. Our study highlights the significance of MNT, CA, and urinary metabolites as potential biological exposure indices of genetic damage in FFSA. This study suggests the need for regular monitoring of FFSA for possible exposure to BTX as a precautionary and preventive step to minimize exposure and reduce the associated health risks. Environ. Mol. Mutagen., 2011. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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