Background: Occupational and environmental exposures mostly represent mixtures of genotoxic agents, whereas the specificity of biomarker measurements varies widely. Exploration of correlations among biomarkers contributes to the further progress of molecular cancer epidemiology and to the selection of the optimal biomarkers for the investigation of human exposure to carcinogens. The aim of this study was to assess the potential cytogenetic damage associated with occupational exposure to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) among automobile mechanics by using Micronuclei (MN) and other Nuclear Abnormalities (NA) as a biomarker.
Methods: The study population composed of 110 occupationally exposed automobile mechanics and 100 unexposed controls. All the study participants were males. Both the exposed and control individuals were selected from automobile garages located in the urban area of Coimbatore City, South India. Exfoliated buccal cells were collected from 110 automobile mechanics and 100 age and sex matched controls. Further, cells were examined for MN frequency and Nuclear Abnormalities (NA) other than micronuclei, such as binucleates, broken eggs and karyolysis.
Results: Results showed a statistically significant difference between occupationally exposed automobile mechanics and control groups. MN and NA frequencies in automobile mechanics were significantly higher than those in control groups (p < 0.05) and also significantly related to smoking habit (p < 0.05). In addition, a higher degree of NA was observed among the exposed subjects with smoking, drinking, tobacco chewing, which is an indicative of cytogenetic damage in these individuals.
Conclusion: MN and other NA reflect genetic changes, events associated with carcinogenesis. Therefore, the results of this study indicate that automobile mechanics exposed to PAHs are under risk of significant cytogenetic damage. Therefore, it is important to provide and offer better awareness of occupational hazards among these workers to promote occupational safety.