Zinc exposure for female workers in a galvanizing plant in Northern Italy
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Provincial Agency for Health Services of the Autonomous Province of Trento, Trento, Italy (Department of Prevention)
University of Parma, Parma, Italy (Department of Clinical Surgery, General Surgery and Surgical Therapy, School of Nursing Sciences)
University of Parma, Parma, Italy (Department of Biomedical, Biotechnological, and Translational Sciences (SBiBiT))
Online publication date: 2017-09-28
Corresponding author
Matteo Riccò   

Provincial Agency for Health Services of the Autonomous Province of Trento, Department of Prevention, Operative Unit of Occupational Health and Safety on the Workplaces, Viale Verona SNC, Palazzina A, 38123 Trento, Italy
Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2018;31(1):113-24
Objectives: Very little is known regarding the toxicokinetics of inhaled zinc, in particular in the case of female workers and for modern, low exposure settings. Our aim is to evaluate the relationship of external zinc levels to those of serum and urine for female workers. Material and Methods: Eleven female workers (age: 41.7±8 years old, body mass index (BMI): 23.5±4.2 kg/m2) in a galvanizing plant were investigated. Exposure assessment consisted of personal/environmental air samples, and measurement of zinc in serum (collected at the end of first shift of the working week (T1)) and urine, collected before the first shift of the working week (T0), T1 and at the end of the last shift of the working week (T2). Results: Both environmental and personal air samplings for zinc and zinc compounds were below the recommended by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft – DFG) limit values of 2 mg/m3 (7.34±2.8 μg/m3 and 8.31±2.4 μg/ m3, respectively). Serum (118.6±20.9 μg /dl) and urine zinc levels were within reference values for female Italian subjects: the latter increased from 56.4±33.5 μg/dl at T0, to 59.8±37.0 μg/dl at T1, and ultimately 65.4±34.4 μg/dl at T2, but no significant trend was found. End of shift (Spearman’s correlation coefficient p value = 0.027) and differential excretion of urinary zinc (both: T0 vs. T1 and T0 vs. T2) were correlated with airborne zinc concentration (p = 0.002 and 0.006, respectively). Conclusions: In general, our data suggests that urine may be a useful medium also for female in order to assess zinc exposure. Further studies are required in order to evaluate whether differential excretion may be useful for the biomonitoring of zinc exposure in the workplaces also for male workers. Int J Occup Med Environ Health 2018;31(1):113–124
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