The influence of atmospheric chromium on selenium content and glutathione peroxidase activity in blood of tannery workers

Environ Health Perspect. 1996 Dec;104(12):1312-6. doi: 10.1289/ehp.104-1469531.


The concentration of selenium and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) and activity of glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) were determined in blood of 34 workers of a tannery in Gniezno, Poland, who worked in an area containing chromium compounds. Fourteen workers were exposed to chromium compounds at concentrations of 0.11 +/- 0.07 mg Cr/m3 (mean +/- SD) and 20 at concentrations 5-10 times lower i.e., 0.022 +/- 0.009 mg Cr/m3. Excretion of Se in urine was measured in all of the investigated workers. Decreased Se concentration in whole blood and blood plasma and elevated TBARS concentration in blood plasma were found in the whole group of investigated tanners as compared to controls. Tanners working in areas with high chromium concentrations had a statistically significant decrease in Se concentration in blood and plasma and decreased urinary excretion of the microelement as compared with other tanners. TBARS concentration was 2.5 times lower in workers exposed to higher chromium concentrations (p < 0.005) than in other workers. Positive linear correlations were found between the concentration of Se in blood and the amount of the element excreted in urine (r = 0.48; p < 0.005), the concentration of Se in blood plasma and in urine (r = 0.46; p < 0.01), and the concentration of Se in blood and erythrocyte GSH-Px activity (r = 0.42; p < 0.02). The observed differences between Se concentration in blood and urine of tannery workers and people who are not employed in the industry may indicate a kind of specific adaptation of the body to the working environment containing chromium compounds.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational* / adverse effects
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational* / analysis
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chromium* / adverse effects
  • Chromium* / analysis
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / blood*
  • Humans
  • Least-Squares Analysis
  • Linear Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Poland
  • Selenium / blood*
  • Selenium / urine
  • Tanning*
  • Thiobarbituric Acid Reactive Substances / analysis*


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Thiobarbituric Acid Reactive Substances
  • Chromium
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Selenium