This study aimed to evaluate occupational exposure to a styrene and xylene mixture through environmental exposure assessment and identify the potential genotoxic effects through biological monitoring. Secondly, we also exposed human peripheral blood cells in vitro to both xylene and styrene either alone or in mixture at concentrations found in occupational settings in order to understand their mechanism of action. The results obtained by air monitoring were below the occupational exposure limits for both substances. All biomarkers of effect, except for nucleoplasmic bridges, had higher mean values in workers (N = 17) compared to the corresponding controls (N = 17). There were statistically significant associations between exposed individuals and the presence of nuclear buds and oxidative damage. As for in vitro results, there was no significant influence on primary DNA damage in blood cells as evaluated by the comet assay. On the contrary, we did observe a significant increase of micronuclei and nuclear buds, but not nucleoplasmic bridges upon in vitro exposure. Taken together, both styrene and xylene have the potential to induce genomic instability either alone or in combination, showing higher effects when combined. The obtained data suggested that thresholds for individual chemicals might be insufficient for ensuring the protection of human health.
- In vitro
- Occupational exposure