Department of Environmental Health Engineering, Faculty of Health and Nutrition, Bushehr University of Medical Sciences, Bushehr, Iran; Systems Environmental Health and Energy Research Center, The Persian Gulf Biomedical Sciences Research Institute, Bushehr University of Medical Sciences, Bushehr, Iran. Electronic address: [Email]
BACKGROUND : Asalouyeh (southern Iran) contains many pollution sources like petrochemical and gas refinery companies. Few studies were conducted on the body burden of metal(loid)s in occupationally exposed workers of the companies in this area. OBJECTIVE : The urine concentration of metal(loid)s in workers of gas refinery and petrochemical companies in Asalouyeh (who have been worked as "two weeks work-two weeks rest" schedule) was evaluated during a before-and-after observational study. The risks of metal(loid)s in drinking water and dust particles in the studied area were also assessed. METHODS : Urinary samples (n = 179) were gathered at the first day of two weeks of work (before) and at the end of two weeks of work (after). The concentration of V, Ni, Mn, Cd, and As was measured using a graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry. The health hazards of metal(loid)s in the air dust and drinking water of workers were also evaluated. RESULTS : The median concentration of metal(loid)s for workers of gas refinery and petrochemical companies for before and after two weeks of work was measured, respectively, as: As (11.44 and 9.31 μg/L), Ni (1.06 and 0.51 μg/L), Cd (0.36 and 0.31 μg/L), Mn (0.29 and 0.24 μg/L), and V (0.08 and 0.05 μg/L). After two weeks work, the median of all metal(loid)s in the urine of petrochemical and gas refinery workers was significantly increased. The non-cancer risk due to intake metal(loid)s from drinking water was more than the threshold value and the cancer risk from drinking water and inhaled air dust was less than the threshold. CONCLUSIONS : Our results revealed the effect of gas refinery and petrochemical activities on increasing the metal(loid)s concentration of the worker's body and the necessity to protect this group. Additionally, the metal(loid)s intake from drinking water and inhaled dust posed no cancer risk to the workers.