At present, little is known about the health effects in the workers processing nanocomposites. In our study, 20 researchers (41.8±11.4 y/o), handling nanocomposites for 17.8±10.0 years were examined pre-shift and post-shift, together with 21 controls (42.7±11.5 y/o). Biomarkers of oxidative stress derived from lipids, nucleic acids, proteins and markers of inflammation were analyzed in the exhaled breath condensate (EBC). Aerosol exposure was monitored during three nanoparticle generation operations: smelting, welding and nanocomposite machining. Mass concentrations during these operations ranged from 0.120 to 1.840 mg/m3, and median particle number concentrations from 4.8x104 to 5.4x105 particles/cm3. Nanoparticles accounted for 40 to 95% of particles, with Fe and Mn prevailing. Significant elevations were already seen in most oxidative stress markers and in several inflammation markers in the pre-shift samples relative to the controls. Significant associations were found between working in nanocomposite synthesis and the majority of EBC biomarkers. Chronic bronchitis was more frequent in researchers. A minor, but significant post-shift decrease of lung function parameters was found. We conclude that workers in nanocomposite synthesis may be at risk of developing airway disorders with time. From all the markers analyzed in EBC, the following markers were most robust and could be recommended for preventive examinations: 8-hydroxy-2-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) and 5-hydroxymethyl uracil (5-OHMeU) from nucleic acids; o-tyrosine (o-Tyr) and 3-nitrotyrosine (3-NOTyr) from proteins; and malondialdehyde and aldehydes C6-C13 from lipids. Among the markers of inflammation, tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and leukotriene B4 appeared to be the most useful.Keywords: Nanocomposites, exhaled breath condensate, oxidative stress, inflammation, spirometry
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