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health surveillance data
Type of information:
experimental study
Adequacy of study:
supporting study
Study period:
2 (reliable with restrictions)
Rationale for reliability incl. deficiencies:
other: Meets generally accepted scientific standards, well documented and acceptable for assessment.
Cross-referenceopen allclose all
Reason / purpose:
reference to same study
Reason / purpose:
reference to other study

Data source

Reference Type:
Levels of metals and organic substances in workers at a hazardous waste incinerator: a follow-up study
Mari M, Schuhmacher M, Domingo JL
Bibliographic source:
Int. Arch. Occup. Environ. Health 82:519-528

Materials and methods

Study type:
biological exposure monitoring
Nickel levels in urine
Endpoint addressed:
not applicable
Test guideline
no guideline followed
Principles of method if other than guideline:
Urinary levels of nickel were determined in three groups of workers at a hazardous waste incinerator (HWI) in Spain. Levels were compared to previous studies.
GLP compliance:
not specified

Test material

Details on test material:
- Name of test material (as cited in study report): Nickel (Ni)


Type of population:
Ethical approval:
not specified
Details on study design:
Study population: Twenty-nine volunteers (19 men and 10 women) were divided into three groups according to their respective workplace and task in the facility. Group I (plant workers) included 15 subjects, whose occupations were incinerator operators, boiler maintenance, furnace maintenance, control panel, and waste-gas-washing operators; Group 2 (laboratory workers) included 7 individuals with analytical jobs, and Group 3 (administration workers) included 7 subjects with administrative tasks. Urine samples were collected from each volunteer and centrifuged.

Sample analysis: Concentrations of nickel (Ni) were measured in individual urine samples. For analyses of Ni in urine, inductively coupled plasma mass-spectrometry (lCP-MS, Perkin- Elmer Elan 6000) was used. Blank and control samples, as well as reference materials Seronorm™ Trace Elements Whole Blood Level 2-3 and Seronorm Trace Elements Urine (SeroAS, Billingstad, Norway) were used to check the accuracy of the analytical methods. Results were recovery corrected. The recovery percentage of this reference material was 101% for Ni. Creatinine was determined by Jaffe's method using a Cobas autoanalyzer. For calculations, when a result was below the limit of detection (LOD), the value was assumed to be half of that limit (ND = 1/2 LOD).

Statistics: The Levene test was used to compare the homogeneity of the variances. Significance of the data was computed by the Kruskal-Wallis and the Mann-Whitney U-test. The statistical software SPSS version 15.0 was used for the analyses. A probability of 0.05 or less was considered as significant.

Results and discussion

In urine of the three groups of workers, Ni concentrations were significantly lower than those of the baseline survey.

With respect to metals, although analyses in blood and urine of all workers at the HWI were individually performed, statistical comparison between plant workers and the other two groups was not carried out taking into account the comparatively small number of samples in these two groups. However, the apparent trend observed for the analyzed elements was similar in the group of plant workers than in the laboratory and administration groups.

In the present study, Ni concentrations could not be compared with the control levels of the same area because those concentrations were determined in blood. Similar Ni levels were found in the 2000 survey, with lower values with respect to the baseline survey. These results would not mean any occupational Ni exposure.

Any other information on results incl. tables

Nickel concentrations in urine (ug/L creatinine) in the three groups of workers, compared to previous studies conducted by the same authors*:

   Group 1 (Plant workers)     Group 2 (Lab workers)     Group 3 (Administrative workers)   
 Sampling year  Mean ± SD  Range   Mean ± SD  Range   Mean ± SD  Range
 1999  16.8  ± 19.9a  2.3 -79.3  7.6  ± 7.3 3.5 -18.6  11.4  ± 9.9  4.4 -18.3
 2000  3.7  ± 1.9b  <4 -8.0  2.3  ± 1.7  <4 -3.8  <4 --
 2007 (present study)  4.8  ± 3.2b  <4 -11.0  2.0  ± 2.2  <4 -5.7  <4  <4 -4.6

*For values corresponding to plant workers, significant differences (P<0.01) according to the Mann-Whitney U-test are indicated by a or b.

Applicant's summary and conclusion

The authors concluded that the results of the present study, performed after 8 years of regular operations in the HWI, do not show evident signs of occupational exposure to a number of metals (including nickel) and organic substances. Most current concentrations are either similar or lower than the respective baseline levels.
Executive summary:

Study rated by an independent reviewer.