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Effects of exposure to low concentrations of chlorinated hydrocarbons on the kidney and liver of industrial workers.

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  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Economics
  • Medicine


An assessment has been made of biochemical alterations in renal and hepatic functions of 73 male operators employed for an average of 8.2 years (range 0.5-23 years) in a chemical plant producing chlorinated hydrocarbons. Exposure to allyl chloride (AC), 1,3-dichloropropene (DCP), epichlorohydrin (ECH), and hexachlorocyclopentadiene (HEX) has regularly been determined by personal air monitoring since 1980. Although exposures to DCP and ECH were well below currently accepted maximum allowable concentrations (MACs), relatively high exposures to AC and HEX, occasionally exceeding the MAC, have been measured. The results of the kidney and liver function tests were compared with those of a control group comprising 35 men employed at the materials division and not occupationally exposed to chemicals. Biochemical alterations of liver function were assessed by determination in serum of alanine and aspartate aminotransferases (ALAT, ASAT), alkaline phosphatase (AP), total bilirubin (BIL), gamma-glutamyltranspeptidase (GGT), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), and total bile acids (SBA). No differences between the exposed group and the control group were found. Nor were differences found in biochemical tests for renal tubular damage (urinary alanine aminopeptidase (AAP) and N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase (NAG) and renal tubular function (urinary retinol binding protein (RBP). Total urinary protein and albumin excretion were measured to assess the integrity of the glomerulus. Urinary total protein did not differ between the groups, but urinary albumin, although within normal limits in both groups, was significantly higher (p < 0.02) in the exposed group. This difference in urinary albumin could not simply be explained by exposure to chlorinated hydrocarbons because albumin concentrations did not correlate with the duration of employment. It is concluded that long term exposure to concentrations of AC, DCP, ECH, or HEX below or near the current limit threshold value does not lead to clinically significant effects on kidney and liver.

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