Exposure and genotoxicity assessment methodologies: the case of formaldehyde occupational exposure

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Formaldehyde (FA) ranks 25th in the overall U.S. chemical production, with more than 5 million tons produced each year. Given its economic importance and widespread use, many people are exposed to FA occupationally. Recently, based on the correlation with nasopharyngeal cancer in humans, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) confirmed the classification of FA as a Group I substance. Considering the epidemiological evidence of a potential association with leukemia, the IARC has concluded that FA can cause this lymphoproliferative disorder. Our group has developed a method to assess the exposure and genotoxicity effects of FA in two different occupational settings, namely FAbased resins production and pathology and anatomy laboratories. For exposure assessment we applied simultaneously two different techniques of air monitoring: NIOSH Method 2541 and Photo Ionization Detection Equipment with simultaneously video recording. Genotoxicity effects were measured by cytokinesis-blocked micronucleus assay in peripheral blood lymphocytes and by micronucleus test in exfoliated oral cavity epithelial cells, both considered target cells. The two exposure assessment techniques show that in the two occupational settings peak exposures are still occurring. There was a statistical significant increase in the micronucleus mean of epithelial cells and peripheral lymphocytes of exposed individuals compared with controls. In conclusion, the exposure and genotoxicity effects assessment methodologies developed by us allowed to determine that these two occupational settings promote exposure to high peak FA concentrations and an increase in the micronucleus mean of exposed workers. Moreover, the developed techniques showed promising results and could be used to confirm and extend the results obtained by the analytical techniques currently available.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)476-484
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Analytical Chemistry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2013


  • Biomarkers of effect
  • Exposure assessment
  • Formaldehyde
  • Genotoxicity
  • Micronucleus
  • Occupational exposure


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