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Work-exposure to PM10 and aromatic volatile organic compounds, excretion of urinary biomarkers and effect on the pulmonary function and heme-metabolism: A study of petrol pump workers and traffic police personnel in Kolkata City, India.


This study focused work-exposure to particulate matter ≤ 10 µm (PM10), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and biological monitoring of major VOCs (BTEX) to observe the significant effects of traffic related pollutants on respiratory and hematological systems of workers engaged in two occupational settings, petrol pumps and traffic areas of Kolkata metropolitan city, India. PM10 was assessed by personal sampling and particle size distribution by 8-stage Cascade Impactor. VOCs were analysed by gas chromatography-flame ionization detector (GC-FID) and five urinary metabolites, trans trans- mercapturic acid (tt-MA), S-phenyl mercapturic acid (SPMA), hippuric acid (HA), mandelic acid (MA) and methyl hippuric acid (MHA) of VOCs, benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylenes (BTEX) by reverse phase high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Pulmonary functions test (PFT) was measured Spirometrically. ∂-aminoleavulinic acid (ALA) and porphobilinogen (PBG) in lymphocytes were measured spectrophometrically following column chromatographic separation. High exposure to PM10, having 50% of particles, ≤ 5.0 µm in both the occupational settings. Exposure to toluene was highest in petrol pumps whereas benzene was highest (104.6 ± 99.0 μg m(-3)) for traffic police personnel. Workplace Benzene is found many fold higher than the National ambient standard. Air-benzene is correlated significantly with pre- and post-shift tt-MA (p < 0.001) and SPMA (p < 0.001) of exposed workers. Blood cell counts indicated benzene induced hematotoxicity. ALA and PBG accumulation in lymphocytes indicated alteration in heme-metabolism, especially among traffic police. Significant reduction of force exploratory volume in one second (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) of fuel fillers are observed with increased tt-MA and SPMA. Study revealed PFT impairments 11.11% (6.66% restrictive and 2.22% obstructive and combined restrictive and obstructive type, each) among petrol pumps and 8.3% obstructive type among traffic police.