Associations between welding fume exposure and blood hemostatic parameters among workers exposed to welding fumes in confined space in Chonburi, Thailand

PLoS One. 2021 Nov 18;16(11):e0260065. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0260065. eCollection 2021.


BACKGROUND: Occupational welding fumes contain varieties of toxic metal particles and may affect cardiovascular system like the Particulate Matters (PM). Few studies have focused on the effects of toxic metals on the hemodynamic balance; however, the reporting results were not consistent. This study aimed to investigate the association between toxic metals exposure (Chromium (Cr), Manganese (Mn) and Lead (Pb)) and blood hemostatic parameters status after a 3-week exposure cessation among workers exposed to welding fumes.

METHODOLOGY: Structured interviews and biological samplings were conducted for 86 male workers without a history of Anemia and Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and working in a confined space to construct crude oil tanks. Metal levels of Cr, Mn and Pb in urine were measured during the working days using Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS) method. The concentrations of hemostatic proteins in blood (White blood cell counts (WBC), Lymphocytes, Monocyte, Eosinophil, Neutrophil, Hematocrit (Hct) were assessed after a 3 weeks exposure cessation. Workers were divided into groups based on occupation type (welder group and non-welder group), and based on metal levels (high and low exposure groups) for comparison. Linear regression models were used to explore the association between metal exposure and multiple blood hemostatic parameters adjusted for age, Body Mass Index (BMI), and smoking status.

RESULTS: Urine Mn and Cr level of the welder group was significantly higher than the non-welder group (Mn: 0.96 VS 0.22 ug/g creatinine, p < 0.001; Cr: 0.63 VS 0.22 ug/g creatinine, p < 0.01). The mean value of Hct in the welder group was 44.58 ± 2.84 vol%, significantly higher than the non-welder group (43.07 ± 3.31 vol%, p = 0.026). The median value of WBC in the high Mn-exposed group (6.93 ± 1.59 X 106 Cell/ml) was significantly lower than the low Mn-exposed group (7.90 ± 2.13 X 106 Cell/ml, p = 0.018). The linear regression analyses showed that there was a significantly negative association between log transformed WBC value and the Mn exposure groups (high and low) after adjusting for age, BMI, and smoking status (β = – 0.049, p = 0.045), but no significant result was found between WBC and occupation types (welder and non-welder) (p > 0.05). Multiple linear regression analysis also showed positive association between Hct and occupational types (welder and non-welders) (β = 0.014, p = 0.055). The other hemostatic parameters were not different from controls when divided by occupation type or metal level groups.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results showed that welders were exposed to about 3 to 4 times higher Mn and Cr concentrations than non-welders. Moreover, one third of the non-welders were exposed to high-exposure groups of Mn and Cr metals. Regression models revealed a significant association of the WBC counts with the Mn exposure group. Therefore, we infer that Mn exposure may play a significant role on the blood hemostatic parameters of workers in the confined space. Hazard identification for non-welders should also be conducted in the confined space.

PMID:34793518 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0260065

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