Mutagenicity study of workers exposed to alkylene oxides (ethylene oxide/propylene oxide) and derivatives

Thiess, A.M.; Schwegler, H.; Fleig, I.; Stocker, W.G.

Journal of Occupational Medicine. Official Publication of the Industrial Medical Association 23(5): 343-347


ISSN/ISBN: 0096-1736
PMID: 7241247
Accession: 043703515

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Employees of plants where alkylene oxide is manufactured or processed were subjected to mutagenicity studies carried out on lymphocyte cultures in accordance with the methods of Moorhead at al, de Jong and Anders. The employees were divided into four groups, according to their periods of exposure: (1) Long-term exposure for more than 20 years; (2) exposure for less than 20 years; (3) long-term exposure and accident (ethylene oxide inhalation or skin contact); and (4) accident, i.e., brief high exposure to ethylene oxide. Measurement of the concentrations in various sections of the plant yielded values of up to 3 ppm under conditions of normal operation. However, this figure rose briefly to 1900 ppm under plant breakdown hat workers were subjected to higher exposure in the past. One hundred metaphases per person were analyzed for chromosome aberrations. The results are given in Tables 1 through 4. A significant increase in the aberration rate was found only in employees in Group 1. This was confirmed by a control examination carried out one year later. The employees of groups 2, 3 and 4 displayed no significant increases. However, in evaluating these findings, it should be noted that the employees had been in contact with a wide range of substances and products in the course of their occupation, which means that the increased aberrations rate found cannot be attributed unequivocally to exposure to a particular substance.