Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1988;14(1):17-20    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.1956

Disturbed iron metabolism among workers exposed to organic sulfides in a pulp plant.

by Klingberg J, Beviz A, Ohlson CG, Tenhunen R

The aim of this study was to investigate a possible relationship between exposure to sulfides and disturbances of the synthesis of heme and the erythrocytes. Eighteen workers exposed to sulfides at a pulp and paper plant were examined and compared with individually matched referents from a thermomechanical pulp plant without such exposure. The exposure levels of methylmercaptan, dimethylsulfide, and dimethyldisulfide were low. However, five subjects were exposed to high levels of short duration, and their data were analyzed separately. The activity of the enzymes delta-aminolevulinic acid synthase and heme synthase in reticulocytes, characteristics of the erythrocytes, and the iron status were analyzed. A minor decrease, not statistically significant, was observed for the enzymes among the five highly exposed subjects. However, the concentrations of iron and transferrin were elevated and the concentration of ferritin was low in comparison to the corresponding levels of the referents. This combination will not occur spontaneously. A previous study indicated that sulfides may inhibit heme synthesis, and the present study suggests that they may also disturb iron metabolism.