Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2017;43(5):494-503    pdf full text

https://doi.org/10.5271/sjweh.3644 | Published online: 10 May 2017, Issue date: 01 Sep 2017

Appraisal of levels and patterns of occupational exposure to 1,3-butadiene

by Scarselli A, Corfiati M, Di Marzi D, Iavicoli S

Objectives 1,3-butadiene is classified as carcinogenic to human by inhalation and the association with leukemia has been observed in several epidemiological studies. The aim of this study was to evaluate data about occupational exposure levels to 1,3-butadiene in the Italian working force.

Methods Airborne concentrations of 1,3-butadiene were extracted from the Italian database on occupational exposure to carcinogens in the period 1996–2015. Descriptive statistics were calculated for exposure-related variables. An analysis through linear mixed model was performed to determine factors influencing the exposure level. The probability of exceeding the exposure limit was predicted using a mixed-effects logistic model. Concurrent exposures with other occupational carcinogens were investigated using the two-step cluster analysis.

Results The total number of exposure measurements selected was 23 885, with an overall arithmetic mean of 0.12 mg/m3. The economic sector with the highest number of measurements was manufacturing of chemicals (18 744). The most predictive variables of the exposure level resulted to be the occupational group and its interaction with the measurement year. The highest likelihood of exceeding the exposure limit was found in the manufacture of coke and refined petroleum products. Concurrent exposures were frequently detected, mainly with benzene, acrylonitrile and ethylene dichloride, and three main clusters were identified.

Conclusions Exposure to 1,3-butadiene occurs in a wide variety of activity sectors and occupational groups. The use of several statistical analysis methods applied to occupational exposure databases can help to identify exposure situations at high risk for workers’ health and better target preventive interventions and research projects.