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Environmental and occupational exposure to manganese: a multimedia assessment.

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Département de médecine du travail et d'hygiène du milieu, Faculté de médecine, Université de Montréal, Canada.


Methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl (MMT) is an organic additive used in Canada since 1976 as an anti-knock agent in unleaded gasoline. Its combustion leads to the emission of Mn oxides, especially Mn3O4. Since no study has assessed the potential risk of chronic exposure to low concentrations resulting from these emissions, the present investigation was undertaken to assess the level of environmental and occupational exposure of the human population. The multimedia exposure of two groups of workers (garage mechanics and blue-collar workers) potentially exposed to different levels of Mn from the combustion of MMT was assessed using personal air samplers, a dietary compilation, water samples at their places of residence, an epidemiological questionnaire and blood and hair samples. Results show that garage mechanics were exposed on average to higher atmospheric Mn at work (0.42 microgram/m3) than the blue-collar workers (0.04 microgram/m3). However, the contribution of atmospheric Mn to the total absorbed dose was less than 1%, and well below the standards established for occupational or environmental exposure; food contributes more than 95% of the multimedia dose. The average whole blood Mn concentrations were similar for the two groups (0.67-0.76 microgram/100 ml) and fall within the normal adult range. The average hair Mn concentrations were significantly higher for the garage mechanics (0.66 microgram/g) than for the blue-collar workers (0.39 microgram/g). The contribution of exogenous Mn versus endogenous Mn is questioned. As judged by the governmental standards or criteria for occupational and non-occupational environments, the current Mn levels in food, water and air may not cause any problems for the workers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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