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J Environ Monit. 2010 Feb;12(2):442-7. doi: 10.1039/b914673c. Epub 2009 Nov 17.

Chromium in exhaled breath condensate (EBC), erythrocytes, plasma and urine in the biomonitoring of chrome-plating workers exposed to soluble Cr(VI).

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Laboratory of Industrial Toxicology, Dept. of Clinical Medicine, Nephrology and Health Sciences, University of Parma, Via Gramsci 14, 43100, Parma, Italy.


Chromium (Cr) levels measured in exhaled breath condensate (EBC-Cr) and urine (Cr-U) at the beginning and end of working shifts were related to those measured in erythrocytes (Cr-RBC) and plasma in 14 non-smoking male chrome-plating workers exposed to Cr(VI) in soluble aerosol form who did not report any significant current or past respiratory disease. Cr-U mainly correlated with Cr-P (Cr in plasma) at the end of the working shift (r(2) = 0.59, p < 0.01), whereas Cr-RBC correlated with EBC-Cr (r(2) = 0.32, p < 0.05); at the beginning of the shift, the only significant correlation was between Cr-U and Cr-RBC (r(2) = 0.74, p < 0.01). The clearance of Cr(iii) arising from Cr(VI) reduction was rapid, thus making Cr-U and Cr-P ideal biomarkers of the most recent exposure, whereas Cr-RBC may represent the fraction of Cr(VI) that reaches the bloodstream in non-reduced form and therefore depends on the airway inhaled dose represented by EBC-Cr. Cr-RBC clearance is slower and not only involves the free diffusion of Cr(iii) from RBC to plasma, but probably also involves more complicated kinetic phenomena involving other tissues and organs, which may explain the correlation between Cr-RBC and Cr-U and the lack of correlation Cr-RBC and Cr-P at least 36 h after the last exposure. In conclusion, our findings reinforce the idea that measuring Cr in EBC can significantly contribute to traditional biomonitoring by providing specific information at the target organ level and integrating our knowledge of Cr toxicokinetics.

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