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Seasonal effect on airborne pyrene, urinary 1-hydroxypyrene, and benzo(a)pyrene diol epoxide-hemoglobin adducts in the general population.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, Milan, Italy.


Exposure to airborne polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in 65 employees (40 sampled both in summer and winter, 15 sampled in summer only, and 10 sampled in winter only) with no occupational exposure to PAHs was assessed by measuring: personal exposure to pyrene, urinary excretion of 1-hydroxypyrene (1-OHP), and benzo(a)pyrene diol epoxide adducts to hemoglobin (BPDE-Hb). Overall, office employees were exposed to significantly higher levels of pyrene in winter (4.54 +/- 2.35 ng/m3, mean +/- SD) than in summer (1.67 +/- 1.92 ng/m3, mean +/- SD; P < 0.001), but no such seasonal variability was observed in 1-OHP excretion. Tobacco smoking was the major determinant of 1-OHP excretion. BPDE-Hb adducts were measured by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry as benzo(a)pyrene tetrols (BPT) released from adducted hemoglobin. In the 65 employees analyzed, mean BPT levels +/- SD were higher in winter (0.14 +/- 0.38 fmol/mg Hb) than summer (0.031 +/- 0.022 fmol/mg Hb). This difference was not statistically significant, probably because of the small proportion of subjects with detectable adducts (11% in summer and 16% in winter). BPDE-Hb adducts were not significantly associated with sex, age, diet, smoking habits, or with pyrene levels and 1-OHP excretion. This is the first report providing reference BPDE-Hb adduct values for the general population not occupationally exposed to environmental PAHs and shows a tendency to seasonal variability, with higher BPT levels in winter when environmental PAHs are also high.

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