Biological monitoring of occupational exposure to metals in electric steel foundry workers and its contribution to 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2-deoxyguanosine levels

Laura Campo, Mariem Hanchi, Sabrina Sucato, Dario Consonni, Elisa Polledri, Luca Olgiati, Dalila Saidane-Mosbahi, Silvia Fustinoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, the urinary concentrations of selected metals in workers from an electric steel foundry in Tunisia were assessed and compared with existing biological limit values and general population reference values. Moreover, the association between oxidative DNA damage, measured as urinary 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2’deoxyguanosine (8-oxodG) and co-exposure to metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) was evaluated. Urinary levels of 12 metals were determined by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) in end-shift spot samples from 89 workers. The urinary levels of phenanthrene (U-PHE), as marker of exposure to PAHs, and 8-oxodG were also available. Median levels ranged from 0.4 µg/L (cobalt, Co, and thallium, Tl) to 895 µg/L (zinc, Zn). Only 1% of samples was above the biological limit values for Co, and up to 13.5% of samples were above limit values for Cd. From 3.4% (Co) to 72% (lead, Pb) of samples were above the reference values for the general population. Multiple linear regression models, showed that manganese (Mn), Zn, arsenic (As), barium (Ba), Tl, and Pb were significant predictors of 8-oxodG (0.012 ≤ p ≤ 0.048); U-PHE was also a significant predictor (0.003 ≤ p ≤ 0.059). The variance explained by models was low (0.11 ≤ R2 ≤ 0.17, p < 0.005), showing that metals and PAHs were minor contributors to 8-oxodG. Overall, the comparison with biological limit values showed that the study subjects were occupationally exposed to metals, with levels exceeding biological limit values only for Cd.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1811
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2 2020


  • 8-dihydro-2-deoxyguanosine
  • 8-oxo-7
  • Biological limit values
  • Biological monitoring
  • Electric steel foundry
  • Metals
  • Occupational exposure
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  • Urine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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