A cytogenetic study of papaya workers exposed to ethylene dibromide

Steenland, K.; Carrano, A.; Ratcliffe, J.; Clapp, D.; Ashworth, L.; Meinhardt, T.

Mutation Research 170(3): 151-160


ISSN/ISBN: 0027-5107
PMID: 3520305
DOI: 10.1016/0165-1218(86)90029-7
Accession: 004569490

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Ethylene dibromide (EDB) has been shown to be carcinogenic in animal studies and mutagenic in vitro. One cytogenetic study of workers exposed to low levels of EDB for short durations was negative. To test whether exposure to low levels of EDB over long periods caused cytogenetic changes, we have assessed the frequencies of sister-chromatid exchanges (SCE) and chromosomal aberrations (CA) in the peripheral blood lymphocytes of 60 men occupationally exposed to EDB. These men worked in papaya-packing plants where EDB was used to fumigate the fruit after harvest to kill fruit-fly larvae. 42 other men who worked at a nearby sugar mill served as controls. The average duration of exposure of the papaya workers was 5 years. 82 full shift personal breathing-zone air samples indicated that the papaya workers were exposed to a geometric mean of 88 ppb of EDB, as an 8-h time weighted average (TWA). Peaks up to 262 ppb were measured. The proposed OSHA 8-h TWA for EDB is 100 ppb, while NIOSH recommends 45 ppb. No differences in SCE levels were found between exposed and nonexposed workers. No differences were found in the total CA frequency between exposed and nonexposed workers. SCE levels were significantly increased in men who smoked cigarettes (p = 0.0001) and in men who smoked marijuana (p = 0.01). CA levels showed a significant increasing trend with age (p = 0.03).