Cytogenetic biomonitoring on a group of petroleum refinery workers

Emiliano Basso, Chiara Cevoli, Maddalena Papacchini, Giovanna Tranfo, Antonella Mansi, Antonella Testa

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Workers employed in petroleum refineries are exposed to a wide range of toxic compounds (benzene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, heavy metals, etc.) with known mutagenic and carcinogenic potential. In this study, we investigated by using the cytokinesis block micronucleus (CBMN) assay on human peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) whether general occupational exposure in petroleum refineries resulted in early biological effects, which would be indicative of adverse health effects in the long term. In this study, out of more 500 workers enrolled in the study, 79 male subjects (46 nonsmokers and 33 smokers), employed in two different Italian petroleum refineries, and a total of 50 male control subjects (34 nonsmokers and 16 smokers) were selected by using very strict selection criteria. The comparison of chromosome damage in PBL between exposed and control populations pointed out a significant increase of micronuclei in the exposed group, correlated with the length of employment. Results confirm that smoking is the principal confounding factor for the responses. In conclusion, our results are indicative of a potential genotoxic risk related to the complex occupational exposure in petroleum refineries, despite the measures adopted in the plants, and corroborate the need to increase safety measures to avoid exposure to chemical agents. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440 - 447
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental and Molecular Mutagenesis
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Epidemiology
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

Cite this

Basso, E., Cevoli, C., Papacchini, M., Tranfo, G., Mansi, A., & Testa, A. (2011). Cytogenetic biomonitoring on a group of petroleum refinery workers. Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis, 52(6), 440 - 447.