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Association of PAHs and BTEX exposure with lung function and respiratory symptoms among a nonoccupational population near the coal chemical industry in Northern China

Chen, Laiguo, Hu, Guocheng, Fan, Ruifang, Lv, Yanshan, Dai, Yanyan, Xu, Zhencheng
Environment international 2018 v.120 pp. 480-488
BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene), adults, air, benzene, biofuels, chemical industry, chest, children, coal, coal industry, emissions, ethylbenzene, exposure pathways, geometry, inflammation, isotope dilution technique, liquid chromatography, lung function, metabolites, monitoring, pollutants, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, regression analysis, respiratory system, risk, tandem mass spectrometry, toluene, China
Emissions (particularly aromatic compounds) from coal industries and biomass fuels combustion lead to high health risks for neighboring residents. To investigate the association of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and 1,2-dimethylbenzene (BTEX) exposure with lung function and respiratory symptoms among adults and children near the coal-chemical industry in Northern China, adults and children from a county dotted with coal chemical industry were chosen as subjects for investigation (investigated area, IR). The control group consisted of adults and children from an agricultural county (control area, CR). The environmental and urinary PAH and BTEX levels of adults and children were determined by isotope dilution liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry. The Mann-Whitney U test and multivariate linear regression models were used to analyze the relationship between pollutant exposure and the respiratory system. The results showed that in an ambient environment, levels of PAHs and BTEX in the IR were significantly higher than those in the CR. Particularly, the concentration profiles for air samples were IR > CR and indoor > outdoor. Both for adults and children, the geometric (GM) concentrations of urinary PAHs and BTEX from the IR were significantly higher than those measured in the CR. Additionally, the urinary PAH exposure level profiles of smokers were higher than those of nonsmokers, indicating that indoor air and smoking were both important nonoccupational exposure sources. The decline of the forced expiratory in the first second (FEV1, %) and the forced expiratory middle flow rate (FEF25%) in children were associated with increasing urinary PAH metabolite levels (p < 0.05). The increase in urinary 1-OHN, 3-OHPhe, 4-OHPhe and 1-OHP levels could be linked to a decrease in FEV1 (r = −0.179, p < 0.05) and FEF25% with the coefficient of −0.166, −0.201 and −0.175 (p < 0.05), respectively. Medical examinations and lung function tests indicated that residents in the IR had higher occurrences of chest inflammation or declining lung function than residents in the CR. Moreover, exposure to PAHs and BTEX could decrease child lung function, though decreased lung function was not observed in adults. Both urinary monitoring and lung function data showed that children were more sensitive to PAH and BTEX exposure than adults.