Studies of transformer repair workers exposed to PCBs: II. Results of clinical laboratory investigations

Am J Ind Med. 1988;14(1):47-62. doi: 10.1002/ajim.4700140107.


Thirty-eight transformer repairmen currently exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), 17 former transformer repairmen, and 56 comparison workers not known to be exposed to PCBs were studied. Measurements were made of serum liver function tests, gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT), lipid profile, thyroid function tests, and other serum biochemistry; hemoglobin; white cell count; 24-hour excretion of delta-aminolevulinic acid, porphyrins, 17-hydroxycorticosteriods and 17-ketosteroids; sperm count; spirometry; and antipyrine half-life to evaluate microsomal mixed function oxidase induction. The total exposed group differed significantly from the comparison group in albumin, LDH, T4, T4-RT3 index, and actual/predicted FEV1. Significant differences among all three exposure groups were seen for albumin, T4, T4-RT3 index, and 17-hydroxycorticosteroid excretion. Differences in FEV1 were attributable to smoking. Significant correlations between serum PCBs and serum lipids were removed by adjustment for confounding variables. After adjustment for confounding variables, there was a statistically significant positive correlation between serum PCBs and GGT and a negative correlation between adipose PCBs and 17-hydroxycorticosteroid excretion. These may reflect subtle metabolic effects of PCBs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Antipyrine / metabolism
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Male
  • Metabolism / drug effects
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / adverse effects*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / metabolism
  • Sperm Count / drug effects
  • Thyroid Function Tests


  • Lipids
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls
  • Antipyrine