Journal of toxicology and environmental health. Part A

DNA damage and susceptibility assessment in industrial workers exposed to styrene.

PMID 22788361


Styrene is a widely used chemical in the manufacture of synthetic rubber, resins, polyesters, and plastics. The highest levels of human exposure to styrene occur during the production of reinforced plastic products. The objective of this study was to examine occupational exposure to styrene in a multistage approach, in order to integrate the following endpoints: styrene in workplace air, mandelic and phenylglyoxylic acids (MA + PGA) in urine, sister chromatid exchanges (SCE), micronuclei (MN), DNA damage (comet assay), and genetic polymorphisms of metabolizing enzymes (CYP2E1, EPHX1, GSTM1, GSTT1, and GSTP1). Seventy-five workers from a fiberglass-reinforced plastics factory and 77 unexposed controls took part in the study. The mean air concentration of styrene in the breathing zone of workers (30.4 ppm) and the mean concentration of urinary metabolites (MA + PGA = 443 ± 44 mg/g creatinine) exceeded the threshold limit value (TLV) and the biological exposure index (BEI). Significantly higher SCE frequency rate and DNA damage were observed in exposed workers, but MN frequency was not markedly modified by exposure. With respect to the effect of genetic polymorphisms on different exposure and effect biomarkers studied, an increase in SCE levels with elevated microsomal epoxide hydrolase activity was noted in exposed workers, suggesting a possible exposure-genotype interaction.