Thursday, January 29, 2009

Living Near A Steel Mill Increases Metabolites of Carcinogens in Children

Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention 18, 96-101, January 1, 2009.
Seasonal and Regional Contributors of 1-Hydroxypyrene among Children near a Steel Mill

Mi-Sun Lee1, Ki-Do Eum1, Kiyoung Lee1, Ho Kim2 and Domyung Paek1
Departments of 1 Environmental Health and 2 Biostatistics, Graduate School of Public Health and Institute of Health and Environment, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Requests for reprints: Domyung Paek, Department of Environmental Health, Graduate School of Public Health and Institute of Health and Environment, Seoul National University, 28 Yeongeon-Dong, Jongno-Gu, Seoul 110-460, Republic of Korea. Phone: 82-2-740-8886 ; Fax: 82-2-743-8240. E-mail:

Urinary 1-hydroxypyrene (1-OHP) is a biomarker of exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Effect of residence on children's PAH exposure was reported among children living near a polluted area. Instead of a snapshot assessment, however, a temporal history of exposure characteristics needs to be assessed in the studies of chronic disease development such as cancer. The urinary 1-OHP measurements were repeated to determine regional effect of ambient air pollution on 1-OHP levels over extended periods. Two sites were chosen: (a) one site located near the steel mill ("nearby" site) and (b) the other site located at a longer distance from the mill ("remote" site). Spot urinary 1-OHP levels were measured from 72 children for 3 consecutive days per month, repeated over 9-month period. Compared with remote site, the nearby site had increased the urinary 1-OHP level by 62.3% [95% confidence interval (95% CI), 39.8-88.3%]. Other statistically significant factors that contributed to the level include sex [16.5% (95% CI, 1.2-34.1%) higher for girls than boys], consumption of charbroiled meat [16.5% (95% CI, 1.1-34.2%) higher], and an increase in PM10 [10.1% (95% CI, 4.8-15.7%) higher for the interquartile range increment]. Controlling for covariates, the 1-OHP levels were increased in the summer and fall compared with winter. The magnitude of the effects of both seasons had diminished after adjusting for PM10. This is the first report providing seasonal and regional contributors to environmental PAH exposure, assessed by urinary 1-OHP, with higher 1-OHP levels during summer when ambient pollution was also high.
BrooklynDodger(s) Comments: Neighborhood or census tract epidemiology in relation to environmental contaminants is problemmatic. Politically, we always fight the problem that significant public health risks - occupationally 1 in a 1000 and below, environmentally lower than that - are below the limit that can be directly observed in a human population. Remember, the lifetime risk of cancer at any site is upwards of 300 per 1000, for lung cancer upwards of 50 per thousand. A null study rules out only the most dramatic of risks in a locality. [There are obstacles beyond this statisical problem as well.]

Korean colleagues have identified an increased exposure through biological monitoring for carcinogen metabolites. The Dodger(s) would have liked to see some exposure monitoring to support the study. The Dodger(s) also confess to not reading the full paper, so the Dodger(s) don't know if the "steel mill" included a coke oven, which would be a major source of PAC's (not political action committees, but polynuclear aromatic compounds, a more inclusive term than PAH's)

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