Chromosome aberrations in hospital workers: Evidence from surveillance studies in Italy (1963-1993)

Stefano Bonassi, Alessandra Forni, Paola Bigatti, Nuccia Canevarollo, Marcella De Ferrari, Cecilia Lando, Paola Padovani, Monica Bevegni, Mario Stella, Daniela Vecchio, Riccardo Puntoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hospital workers are occupationally exposed to various agents known or suspected to induce chromosome damage, the most studied being ionizing radiation. To determine the extent of chromosome damage in peripheral blood lymphocytes in this population, taking into account temporal changes and job titles, a re-analysis of cytogenetic studies performed in four Italian laboratories in the period 1965-1993 was carried out. A total of 871 hospital workers and 617 controls, mainly coming from ad hoc studies or surveillance programs in occupational groups potentially exposed to ionizing radiation, were examined. The exposed to controls frequency ratio of chromosome aberrations was evaluated as the measure of effect within each dataset by job title, using multivariate Poisson regression analysis, which allowed an efficient control of confounding. Increased frequency of chromosome-type aberrations among exposed subjects was found in all datasets, especially in those dealing with older data. Significantly higher frequencies are reported for various job titles, particularly for orthopedists, radiologists, anesthesists, and nurses among paramedical occupations. Decrease in exposure to ionizing radiation in hospital workers was documented through a targeted study in the critical group of radiologists. A similar time-related reduction in the frequency of chromosome-type aberrations also has been reported by the surveillance studies carried out over the most recent decades. These data substantiate the use of chromosome-type aberrations as biomarkers of exposure in this occupational setting in the period evaluated. However, the increases observed also in workers with doubtful exposure to ionizing radiation indicate that other chromosome-damaging agents may be involved and, in turn, suggest the extension of surveillance to a larger number of occupations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-360
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • chromosome aberration
  • hospital workers
  • ionizing radiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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