Human exposure to benzene is derived occupationally from the petrochemical and petroleum refining industries. This study was performed to determine whether the frequencies of chromosome aberrations in workers exposed to low levels of benzene in a petroleum refining factory were elevated compared to an unexposed control group. The study population was comprised of 178 exposed workers and 36 unexposed workers. The frequencies of chromatid deletions and total chromosome aberrations in workers exposed to benzene were significantly higher compared to the unexposed control group. The frequency of total chromosome aberration was 4.20 per 500 metaphase cells in the exposed workers, whereas the frequency was 2.24 per 500 metaphase cells in the unexposed control group. The frequencies of total chromosome aberrations were significantly associated with benzene concentration after adjusting for confounding variables such as age, smoking status, and alcohol intake. The frequencies of chromosome aberrations were significantly increased in workers with low white blood cell counts (below 4000 cells/mm3) compared to those with high white blood cell counts (above 4000 cells/mm3). A reduced white blood cell count (below 4000/mm3) is suggestive of chronic exposure to benzene. In conclusion chronic benzene exposure and preclinical signs, such as reduced white blood cell counts, may be monitored by chromosome aberrations analysis.
|Number of pages
|Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health - Part A
|Published - Dec 2004