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Toxicol Ind Health. 2004 Jun;20(1-5):51-6.

Markers of cadmium exposure in workers in a cadmium pigment factory after changes in the exposure conditions.

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Department of Hygiene and Public Health, Osaka Medical College, Osaka, Japan.


The objective of this study was to assess changes in concentrations of cadmium in the blood (Cd-B), cadmium in the urine (Cd-U), beta2-microglobulin in the serum (beta2-mG-S) and beta2-microglobulin in the urine (beta2-mG-U) of workers at a cadmium (Cd) pigment factory in Japan in which exposure conditions improved. We evaluated reversibility of these markers in continuously employed workers in relation to changes in exposure levels resulting from improvements in the workplace and the reduced production of Cd. Our study involved both environmental and biological monitoring. Data were collected for four years. We measured the Cd concentration in the air of each work area, using the time-weighted average (TWA). Cd-B and Cd-U were measured in workers as direct indices of Cd exposure. beta2-mG-S and beta2-mG-U were measured as markers of renal tubular function. Exposure levels were high in all work areas, according to the criteria set by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). Workers' Cd-B and Cd-U concentrations reflected high levels of exposure. Correlation was found between these direct indices and beta2-mG-S concentrations. Since the second year, ambient Cd concentrations decreased and reacted markers have been improved. Our results suggest that Cd-B, Cd-U, beta2-mG-S and beta2-mG-U are appropriate markers for monitoring both the level of Cd exposure and the tubular function of workers. Reversibility of urinary low molecular weight protein was observed in the workers over the four years.

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