Background: Perchloroethylene is a halogenated solvent widely used in dry cleaning. International agency of research on cancer classified this chemical as a probable human carcinogen.
Objective: To evaluate the extent of primary DNA damage in dry cleaner workers who were exposed to perchloroethylene as compared to non-exposed subjects. The effect of exposure modifying factors such as use of personal protective equipment, perceived risk, and reported safe behaviors on observed DNA damage were also studied.
Methods: 59 exposed and non-exposed workers were selected from Yazd, Iran. All the 33 exposed workers had work history at least 3 months in the dry cleaning shops. Peripheral blood sampling was performed. Microscope examination was performed under fluorescent microscope (400×). Open comet software was used for image analysis. All biological analysis was performed in one laboratory.
Results: Primary DNA damage to leukocytes in dry cleaners was relatively high. The median tail length, %DNA in tail, and tail moment in exposed group were significantly higher than those in non-exposed group. There was no significant difference between smokers and nonsmokers in terms of tail length, tail moment, and %DNA in tail. There was no significant correlation between duration of employment in dry cleaning and observed DNA damage in terms of tail length, tail moment and %DNA in tail. Stratified analysis based on exposed and nonexposed category showed no significant relationship between age and observed DNA damage.
Conclusion: Occupationally exposure to perchloroethylene can cause early DNA damage in dry cleaners.
Keywords: Clothing; Comet assay; DNA damage; Occupational exposure.