Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1996;22(6):438-443    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.165

Transient increase in DNA strand breaks in car refinishing spray painters

by Fuchs J, Hengstler JG, Hummrich F, Oesch F

Objectives Genotoxic risk was evaluated for spray painters possibly exposed to polyester resins and acrylic enamel-based paints in automotive body repair shops.

Methods DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) strand breaks and alkali-labile sites were measured in peripheral mononuclear blood cells ex vivo using the alkaline elution method. Samples of venous blood were taken on Monday after a free weekend and again on Friday from 38 male and 1 female spray painters and compared with the blood samples from 36 male and 3 female referents. The elution rate of each DNA sample was standardized by dividing it by the elution rate obtained from simultaneously sampled untreated Chinese hamster V79 cells.

Results The spray painters showed a significantly (P<0.001) higher mean level of strand breaks and alkali-labile sites in the Friday samples [2.05 (SE 0.17)] compared with the Monday samples [1.38 (SE 0.07)]. The Monday results of the spray painters were not distinguishable from the referents' [1.41 (SE 0.10)]. The increase in DNA damage was numerically higher, but only weakly significant (use of masks, P<0.05) or nonsignificant (use of spray booths), when fewer safety provisions were taken.

Conclusions A significant increase in DNA strand breaks and alkali-labile sites was found in spray painters after a week's work. However, DNA damage in spray painters after a week's work seems to be reversible. The use of modern safety equipment seems to affect DNA damage only marginally. There is an urgent need to identify the genotoxic chemicals in the occupational environment of spray painters and to develop corresponding satisfactory safety measures.