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Environ Monit Assess. 2014 Apr;186(4):2195-204. doi: 10.1007/s10661-013-3529-0. Epub 2013 Nov 30.

Evaluation of genotoxic effects of benzene and its derivatives in workers of gas stations.

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  • 1Postgraduation Program in Pathology, Universidade Federal de Ciências da Saúde de Porto Alegre (UFCSPA), Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.


The search for reliable biomarkers of human exposure to benzene and its derivatives is still subject of research. Many of the proposed biomarkers have limitations ranging from the low sensitivity to the wide variability of results. Thus, the aim of our study was to assess the frequencies of chromosomal abnormalities (CA) and sister chromatid exchanges (SCE) in workers of gas stations, with (cases, n = 19) and without (local controls, n = 6) risk of exposure to benzene and its derivatives, comparing them with the results from the general population (external controls, n = 38). The blood dosages of benzene, toluene, and xylenes were measured in all participants. Blood solvent levels were compared with the findings obtained in cytogenetic evaluation and a research protocol which included data of the workplace, lifestyle, and health of the individuals. We did not detect the presence of benzene and its derivatives and did not find chromosomal damage that may be associated with the gas station activity in cases. Moreover, although we found an association of increased SCE and the working time in the local controls, the values found for SCE are within normal limits. Thus, our evaluation of SCE and CA reflected the levels of benzene and its derivatives observed in the blood. We believe, therefore, that SCE and CA may actually constitute possible tests for the evaluation of these exposures. However, we believe that further studies, including individuals at risk, are important to confirm this assertion.

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