Workers in coke oven plants have a higher incidence of lung cancer than the general population. They are exposed to a variety of chemicals, in particular the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), including benzo(a)pyrene. To evaluate the genotoxic effects of PAH exposure, air samples and urine samples were analyzed for PAH by capillary gas chromatography and high-performance liquid chromatography, respectively. Since benzo(apyrene is activated to 7β,8α-dihydroxy-(9α,10α)-epoxy-7,8,9,10-tetrahydrobenzo(a)pyrene (BPDE) and binds to DNA, we have used ultrasensitive enzymatic radioimmunoassay and synchronous fluorescence spectrophotometry to measure BPDE-DNA adducts in lymphocyte DNA. The results show that workers were exposed to high concentrations of atmospheric PAH. However, the mean PAH exposure levels are reduced 60% when the workers wore masks during work. When compared to exposure levels, the urinary excretion of PAH was relatively low. Approximately one-third of the workers had detectable putative BPDE-DNA adducts in lymphocytes by ultrasensitive enzymatic radioimmunoassay, and 10% of the samples had emission peaks at 379 nm by synchronous fluorescence spectrophotometry. The four most positive samples were the same in both of the assays. Antibodies to an epitope(s) on BPDE-DNA were found in the sera of approximately one-third of the workers. Detection of DNA adducts and antibodies to these adducts are internal indicators of exposure to benzo(a)pyrene.

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