Assessment of genotoxic exposure in Swedish coke-oven work by different methods of biological monitoring

Scand J Work Environ Health. 1991 Apr;17(2):123-32. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.1725.


This study evaluated the results of several biological methods used simultaneously to monitor coke-oven work. Blood samples from 44 male coke-oven workers and 48 male referents, matched for age and smoking/snuff consumption, were examined for cytogenetic damage in lymphocytes. Urinary thioether excretion was determined for 62, and urine mutagenicity for 31, of the subjects, who followed a standardized diet during the urine sampling. Exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons varied with work task, the ambient air levels of benzo[a]pyrene sometimes exceeding 5 micrograms/m3. Cytogenetic damage, urine mutagenicity, and thioether excretion did not differ between the groups. The smokers, however, had significantly higher sister chromatid exchange frequencies, urine mutagenicity, and thioether excretion than the nonsmokers. The absence of biological indications of genotoxic exposure was unexpected and indicates that the studied methods are not adequate to assess the carcinogenic risks of Swedish coke-oven workers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers
  • Carcinogens, Environmental / toxicity*
  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metallurgy*
  • Mutagenicity Tests
  • Mutagens*
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Polycyclic Compounds / toxicity
  • Smoking / adverse effects


  • Biomarkers
  • Carcinogens, Environmental
  • Mutagens
  • Polycyclic Compounds