Occupational exposures to hazardous chemicals are common in industries using solvent based materials as well as in indoor environments where people are exposed to volatile organic compounds from various sources. The health of the workers has several determinants, including risk factors at the workplace leading to cancer. The aim of the present investigation was to assess the potential cytogenetic damage associated with occupational exposure among pesticide workers by using micronuclei and other nuclear abnormalities as a biomarker. The micronucleus assay on exfoliated buccal cells is a useful and minimally invasive method for monitoring genetic damage in humans. To determine the genotoxic effects of pesticide workers, Micronucleus assay was carried out in exfoliated buccal cells of 50 pesticide workers and 50 controls. For each individual, 2,000 exfoliated buccal cells were analyzed. Micronucleus and other nuclear abnormalities frequencies in exposed were significantly higher than those in control groups (P<0.05) and also significantly related to smoking, tobacco chewing and alcohol drinking habit (P<0.05). Increased frequency of these nuclear abnormalities in buccal epithelial cells of exposed workers indicates adverse cellular reaction and/or a surveillance mechanism to eliminate cells with genetic damage. The present studied individuals may be at a higher risk of developing cancer and therefore monitored for any long term adverse effects of the exposure. Genotoxic studies are foremost for any occupational exposure studies. Evaluation based on genotoxic parameters is often useful in warranting environmental endowment and occupational health. Genotoxicity biomarkers have received a considerable interest as tools for detecting human genotoxic exposure and effects, especially in health surveillance programs dealing with chemical carcinogens.
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