Purpose: The main aim of the study was to provide evidence whether professional cleaning was associated with biomarkers of lung damage in non-invasively collected biological fluids (exhaled air and exhaled breath condensate--EBC).
Materials and methods: This cross-sectional study involved 40 cleaners regularly exposed to cleaning detergents and 40 controls. The subjects completed a standard questionnaire from European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS II) and underwent a spirometry. Fractional exhaled nitric oxide (F(E)NO) was measured online, and pH, ammonium (NH(4) (+)), H(2)O(2) and 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE) were assayed in EBC.
Results: Among the cleaners, the frequency of asthma and rhinitis was, respectively, 2.5 and 20%. The most frequently reported symptoms were sneezing (27.5%), nasal and/or pharyngeal pruritus (25%), ocular pruritus (22.5%) and cough (22.5%). There were no significant differences in comparison with the control group. Median F(E)NO levels were higher in African than in Caucasian cleaners (21.5 [16.5-30.0] ppb and 18.0 [13.5-20.5] ppb; p < 0.05). H(2)O(2)-EBC (0.26 [0.09-0.53] μM vs. 0.07 [0.04-0.15] μM; p < 0.01), NH(4) (+)-EBC (857 [493-1,305] μM vs. 541 [306-907] μM; p < 0.01) and pH-EBC (8.17 [8.09-8.24] vs. 8.06 [7.81-8.10]; p < 0.01) were higher in the cleaners than in the controls. Finally, the cleaners showed significant correlations between pH-EBC and NH(4) (+)-EBC (r = 0.33, p < 0.05) and a weak correlation between 4-HNE-EBC and H(2)O(2)-EBC (r = 0.37, p < 0.05).
Conclusion: The promising role of EBC analysis in biomonitoring of exposed workers was confirmed. It was also possible to identify the potential biomarkers of exposure to alkaline products (increased ammonium-EBC and pH-EBC levels) and potential biomarkers of oxidative stress (increased H(2)O(2)-EBC levels correlated with 4-HNE-EBC levels) in workers with no signs of airway diseases.