Oxidative DNA damage is considered to play an important role in pathophysiological processes, ageing and cancer. So far major interest has been on measuring 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG), the preferred methods relying on HPLC or GC-mass spectrometry. The high biological relevance of 8-OHdG is due to its ability to induce G-->T transversions, which are among the most frequent somatic mutations found in human cancers. Effects of workplace exposures on the level of white blood cell 8-OHdG or urinary 8-OHdG have been reported with controversial results. Exposures examined include asbestos, azo-dyes, benzene, fine particulate matter (PM(2.5)), glassworks, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), rubber manufacturing, silica, metals, styrene, toluene and xylenes. The available data indicate that there is still a lack of well established dose-response relations between occupational or environmental exposures and the induction of 8-OHdG. Smoking has been most consistently identified as a confounder for 8-OHdG, but various occupational studies did not reveal higher levels of 8-OHdG in smokers. Despite the conflicting results, the reported studies show promise for 8-OHdG as a biomarker of oxidative stress associated with chemical exposure. However, there are critical aspects related to the analytical challenge, artifactual production of 8-OHdG, inter- and intra-individual variation, confounding factors and inter-laboratory differences, implying that further work is needed to reach a consensus on the background level of 8-OHdG.